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Fees added to services to offset rising costs

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has joined a growingtide of law enforcement agencies charging small fees for servicesthat have been free in the past.

The sheriff’s office is now charging a $5 fee for accidentreports, background checks and fingerprinting services.

“I absolutely hated to do it, but I think we have to to offsetthe costs associated with those services,” Sheriff Wily Calcotesaid.

The sheriff’s department recently had to purchase a new copymachine to replace the aging one they had been using. Coupled withthe costs of ink, paper and other supplies, the cost of thoseservices were impacting on the department’s ability to providethem, he said.

In addition to the copier, a higher demand for paper was alsoincreasing costs, he said. New accident reports being usedstatewide have grown from one page to seven. The reports aregenerally supplied to the persons involved in the accident, theirinsurance agencies, the reporting officer’s files and a copy issent to the state to compile statistics.

“Each accident usually involves nearly 50 pages of paper on theaccident report alone,” Calcote said.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is a relative latecomerto charging for those services.

The Brookhaven Police Department charges $10 for the sameservices. Their policy went into effect earlier this year.

In Lawrence County, the practice of the charging for accidentreports, fingerprinting services and background checks has been ineffect for quite some time.

“We’ve been charging for those services for a number of years,”said Monticello Police Officer David Stanley. “The (accidentreport) was recently raised from its former $10 charge to $25.We’re probably the highest around.”

Stanley could not say why the fee was higher there thenelsewhere. MPD charges $10 for fingerprinting services andbackground checks.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office charges a $10 fee for eachof the three services. It has been charging for them since around2002.

Even the Mississippi Highway Patrol is not exempt from chargingfor these services. Although Troop M performs very few backgroundchecks, they do have a $10 fee for copies of the accident report.Fingerprinting is still done at no charge.