Brown County Jail officials said they anticipate a lengthy stay by Vince Ariaz because of his $750,000 bond, and they are taking steps to keep him safe.
Ariaz is in a one-person cell, where he showers and eats. He is separated from other inmates because the “double whammy” of being a police officer and someone accused of sex crimes against minors would put him at risk in the general population, Sheriff Bobby Grubbs and jail administrator Becky Caffey said.
“We have him in protective custody right now,” Caffey said. “He doesn’t come out of that cell except for visitation and (recreation).
“ … The inmates would probably beat him up — bad. We don’t want anything to happen to him.”
Grubbs said, “Police officers, because of their occupation, are high risk (in jail).” They’re not well received by the general population.”
“No,” Caffey added. “Nor would his charge be.”
She said word of Ariaz’ incarceration spread quickly among the inmates after his arrest Tuesday.
Jail Sgt. Les Karnes said there have been questions from inmates “as to who it is, what officer it is.” Jail staff do not answer those questions, Karnes and Caffey said.
“They know. They’ve seen the paper,” Caffey said of the inmates. “The grapevine in jail is very short.”
She said Ariaz’ cell is in one of the three male wings. Other inmates can’t see into his cell, but they can see him when he is moved throughout the jail — always escorted by jailers, Caffey said.
Jailers check on Ariaz every 15 minutes. Normally, inmates in single-person cells are checked every 30 minutes, Caffey said, but Ariaz gets more frequent checks because “he has high risk factors.” She said she was referring to “the nature of the charges, the seriousness of the offenses and the high bond,” and she declined further elaboration on that matter.
Caffey said jail personnel were shocked Tuesday morning when a Department of Public Safety car, driven by Sgt. Steve Tuggle, pulled into the jail’s sally port with Ariaz. He sat in the back seat, handcuffed and still in his police uniform, but no longer wearing a badge.
Ariaz was brought into the jail, where jailers took his uniform and gave him orange jail garb.
Ariaz’ arrival was “very hard” on jailers. “It’s very uncomfortable and it’s embarrassing. It’s uncomfortable because we know him and we worked with him and he’s a peace officer,” Caffey said.
“The tension level was a little high. You can just tell … (there is) kind of a sense of dread, knowing what you’re fixing to have to do, knowing you’re fixing to have to book this officer into the jail.”
Ariaz isn’t the first public servant to be arrested and booked into the Brown County Jail. In cases in recent years, those defendants have quickly made low bonds or, as in one case, been transferred hours later to federal custody.