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Sheriff’s View #45 for Nov. 2 to 6, 2009
Sheriff’s View #45 for Nov. 2 to 6, 2009

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard one more time. Once again we have had a busy week and I have a lot to write about. I think the big news of the week was the car/deer accident that Deputy Holly Wiseman had in Cole County. Holly had taken a person to a treatment facility in Columbia per a court order and was returning to Pulaski County when the deer decided to cross the road. Holly was treated and released from a medical center. We are not sure when she will return to duty.

But she will not return for long. Earlier the same day of the accident Holly had given us her two week notice. She is leaving our $10.77 per hour job for a chance to make a reported $22.00 something on Ft. Wood. We are hurt by the loss because Holly had prior police experience and was an excellent deputy. We do not want to see her leave. Holly was a new hire for us and she had recently finished her eight week field training program with our FTO trainer. Holly had been working by herself for just a few weeks. So the bottom line here is that once again we will hire a new person and put them through the field training program. Once again I get the chance to write that we as a department cannot continue to prosper because we continue to lose the best of our deputies.

When the accident occurred I sent out a news release in which I stated that the patrol car was totaled in the accident. I have already had a request from a reader asking for more details about the loss of the car and how that will affect us. The car in question was a 2001 Ford. We had purchased the car from the Waynesville City Police for $1,000.00 back on 10-5-2006 and it had 130,000 miles when we took possession. At that time it replaced a car we took out of service that had 248,000 miles. Holly said hello to the deer on 10-28-09 and the car had 202,000 miles at that time. According to our vehicle maintenance log we had spent $5,137.48 for repairs to the car to keep it running. So for a total of $6,137.48 we managed to use the car for 72,000 miles over a three year period. The quoted figure does not count gasoline and at 15 mpg that would be 4,800 gallons at around an average of $2.65 per gallon for $12,720.00.

We could make the effort to repair the car but it does have fairly extensive front end damage and both front air bags deployed in the accident. Replacing those air bags would be a major expense. The car’s age and mileage also hinder the idea of placing more money into this unit. Major Cristoffer and I made the decision to send this unit to our bone yard to act as a source of parts for the future. We will begin to work on the purchase of a replacement car soon.

In other news I met with two groups of folks this past week who want to build us a new jail. While the primary focus of our jail study is to see if this could be done using tax free bonds we also talked about a sales tax method. The figures will be high. One group told me a 150 bed jail could be built for $8.3 million. Add the cost of the land and the cost to fully equip the new jail and you are probably in the $11 to $12 million range. If we did a ½ cent build the complete (land purchase, construction cost, equipment for the jail, maintenance fund for future repair) jail tax that would bring in about $1.8 million per year and we could sunset (eliminate) the tax at about the eight, or nine year mark. We would also probably need a ¼ cent sales tax to operate the jail with the higher level of staffing and supply that would be needed.

There are two statements that need to be taken seriously. First a new jail will cost us a lot of money to build no matter how we decide to make the attempt. Second any financial figures quoted need to be taken simply as very, very, rough estimates at this time. The whole idea behind our jail feasibility study is to arrive at solid cost figures for both the expense to build and operate a jail and the possible sources of revenue because of the new jail. While I have some knowledge of the cost involved these guys break it down into units of cost on everything. When we are done we will have solid figures to look at in order to make any possible decisions.

One never knows what the future will bring but here are three examples of what could occur. A federal court order could close our old jail down. The other jails that currently house our inmates could all reach the saturation point in the future for their own inmates and they may have to turn us away. If that happens there is no place for us to go. Our current jail was built a long time ago. We have the “black iron” plumbing pipes in the building. According to the jail builders sooner or later these pipes have a tendency to rust out and fail. Should such a pipe failure occur under the wrong subfloor or behind the wrong walls the repair cost will stagger us and the jail will have to close for some time.

I think the Presiding Commissioner said it best in the paper a week or so ago when he was quoted as saying he knew we needed a new jail but did not know how we could afford one. I fully agree. But I also know that our legal responsibility to house the inmates will NEVER go away and the jail issue future could be hard on us as a county. We must think of the future and act accordingly.

This past week we had a massive surge in recalled warrants due to some changes in the laws that were made this year by the Missouri legislature. We are currently reviewing our entire warrant entry and recall procedure to see it we can trim down the system and make it more fail safe. Our current system was set up back in 2001 and it seems to have some extra steps that are not necessary. We received 195 recalled warrants in one day and we had to bring in an off duty dispatch employee to handle these recalled warrants. So once again the OT hours will add up.

I believe that I have passed the requested word count so once again I will ask that all of you drive with care and keep your actions legal. We do not need your jail business but if you do visit our jail you will find that the lights are working just fine.

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