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Sheriff’s View #28 for July 6 to 10, 2009
Sheriff’s View #28 for July 6 to 10, 2009

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard one more time. The good news for this week is that all of those loud booming sounds you hear are not real gunshots. It is only the Fourth of July. Then again, if you live on Tapestry Lane near Devil's Elbow, the real big boom on Friday night was the result of several members of our department celebrating the Fourth with a firecracker on steroids usually called a flash bang.

OK, that's not exactly what happened.

We were attempting a car stop felony arrest situation and the car ended up in a place we did not expect, but we were following the car and our cover was blown so we had to complete the stop. We used a flash bang to confuse the suspects for a few seconds as we approached the car. The stop was the result of an armed robbery investigation and we were not sure if the suspects were armed and desperate or what their mental state might have been, so we opted for officer safety as a first rule. After the excitement was over, I tried to visit with all the people who lived nearby that we could see watching us work to explain what had happened. I hope that I got to everyone who was watching.

As to the armed robbery case, we are still hard at work on the details. There are still a few things we do not understand about this crime, but the major part of the investigation is over. As I write this column on Saturday afternoon, our deputies are conferring with the prosecuting attorney on the probable cause statements. I hope to have warrants in the next eight hours or so and at that point I will try to put this complex case out to the media.

In other news, our inmate count on July 1 totaled 59. We had 31 of them here in Waynesville and the other 28 housed elsewhere at $35 per inmate per day. We had a good day on July 1 because our inmate board bill was only $980 for the day. We are budgeted for $350,000 for this year to house our inmates out of county. Over the past eight years we have spent $2.6 million in board bills and 2009 will add another big chunk of dollars to the total.

We had a LANEG board of directors meeting last week in Maries County and the meeting resulted in a shocking bit of information being given to the board. In a world were all of the sheriffs and police chiefs who make up the board must deal with budget shortfalls every day, we were told that it appears we will be given more federal money to operate with than we expected. Since we were all experienced CEOs, we were able to absorb this news without any major fainting spells occurring. There was a rather joyful mood in the room as we dealt with this unexpected "problem."

On a more serious note I happened to be looking for a report in our CrimeStar reporting system last week and I needed the ID number of the former employee. When I accessed the employee ID file, I realized that in four years and six months we have added 129 employee identification numbers to our system. Since we only have 29 positions in the whole department that gives us a small idea of employee turnover. As I have said before, we cannot continue to lose the cream of the employee crop and continue to function well as a department. We must raise our salary and benefit packages in order to find and retain quality employees.

Our case number/calls for service count now stands at 4,825 for this year. Since we are now at the halfway point in the year, that count doubled would only be 9,650 for the year. I hope that trend continues. It will also be interesting to see how the payment of bills stacks up at the halfway point in the year. Hopefully I will receive the end of June financial totals soon and have a chance to study the results.

On the grant front, we are working on the grant the commissioners gave us back and we should upload it to the federal system by this Wednesday. We are down to the last 24 hours or so of the 2009 MODOT traffic grant and I hope to finish that grant this next week. We also picked up a mini-grant from MODOT for a DWI saturation effort from July 3 to 5. One deputy was on vacation and one had the weekend off and they both volunteered to work this detail, so in addition to the traffic enforcement work that gave us two more deputies on the air if something major happened in the county and we needed extra help.

Once again I find myself at the end of another column effort. I will again ask that you do not drink and drive or commit any other traffic violations. The bottom line is that many traffic violations end in a vehicle accident and we do not want to load you into the ambulance, or help load you into a body bag. But if you must drive drunk, the lights in the jail are on!

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