Written by Nicole Foulke.
The Montgomery county commissioners and the Montgomery county sheriff’s department introduced the new Montgomery county prison transport bus on Friday in Norristown, in a gathering attended by Sheriff Eileen W. Behr and her staff, as well as Commissioner Vice Chair Leslie S. Richards and Commissioner Chair Josh Shapiro.
The shiny, white bus, emblazoned with the word” Sheriff” as well as a reminder to call 911 in emergencies, was parked at the base of the courthouse for the 2 p.m. gathering.
The bus, which has new security features, was $153,000, and replaces an aging, unreliable bus.
The new vehicle has been used for the past month to transport inmates back and forth from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Lower Providence to the Montgomery county courthouse in Norristown, which is its primary purpose.
Behr was the catalyst of the purchase of the new bus, which has been a far cry from the old bus, a modified school bus whose transmission was unreliable. She brought the idea to the commissioners, who voted for a new bus. “It was a very collaborative effort,” said Behr.
“The bus that we had before, it was always questionable whether it would arrive at its destination,” said Richards.
According to Shapiro, upgrading their fleet and infrastructure can help financially in the county.
New features on the bus include added cameras and windows that cannot be opened, said Lt. Thomas McDonald on the sheriff’s department. Inmates could open the windows of the old bus and interact with people outside of the bus. On the bus, men will be seated in a different area than women.
Sheriff’s department deputy Gerald Benjamin was inside the bus, explaining the inside. There were, for instance, special seats for law enforcement and inmates who are vulnerable from attack from other inmates.
According to Deputy Benjamin, the bus may also be used to go to Graterford prison in Skippack.