Welcome aboard one more time for another visit with the deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. As I start this column, the sun is bright, the temperature is high and this clearly does not feel like we are near the end of November. Yet turkey day draws quite close and December follows right behind turkey day. Where has this year gone?
I have said before that I never know what to put into these columns. I disclose some earthshaking information and nobody mentions that news or comments about the news. I write some silly off-the-wall humor about deer season and 20 people want to comment. I just never know what to say.
For those of you who do want the latest deer season update you may be happy to hear the score for Saturday was sheriff 0 and deer 50 — or, in simple words, I did not see or hear a thing in the woods. On Sunday I did not go out. We have employee payroll due this week and the turkey day holiday cuts one day off our processing time, so I was in the office early Sunday to do my part of the payroll process. Now I am working on the column, so no deer hunt for me on Sunday.
This past week, we had a chance to watch a ceremony that brought pride to our department. On Thursday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon presented our very own Deputy Don Hayden with the Missouri Medal of Valor. Don was one of seven Missouri public safety officers who received the medal that day. There were three firemen, three Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and our deputy. This was the second year that the Missouri medal has been awarded to public safety officers. The Missouri statute allows up to seven medals to be given in one year. All of the actions that were recognized occurred in 2008.
The theme of the day was smoke and fire. Five of the officers were recognized for actions in rescuing people from burning houses or burning cars. One trooper had jumped into a flood-swollen river for a rescue and was swept away downstream but was able to bring the victim out alive. Then there was number seven, our very own Deputy Don Hayden, who was shot four times as he engaged a domestic violence incident suspect at close range and stopped the suspect’s hostile actions with his return gunfire. I would love to expand my remarks on this topic but we are still waiting for the trial to take place so I will have to stay away from excess publicity about the incident.
Needless to say, we were very proud of Don for his actions that night and having the state of Missouri recognize his efforts was the icing on the cake. A number of interested people went to the Capitol for the ceremony. Don had his family with him and the entire senior command staff of our department was also there. The day was an absolute pleasure to enjoy. We were assisted by our very own Pulaski County Rep. David Day who let us meet in his office until the time for the ceremony. David even took the time to escort us over to the Governor’s office. He did not say he was worried that we would get lost if left on our own but he did escort us to the correct door on time.
What can I say? The job of sheriff has a lot of not-so-great moments that seem to frequently occur, but every so often, we also have a great moment to enjoy. The ceremony in Gov. Nixon’s office definitely ranks as one of the great moments from this term in office as sheriff. I am very proud of the job Don did on the night in question, but I am also very proud of the job the entire department did that night. When we paged out the “deputy shot,” broadcast virtually every paid member of the department (and a bunch of reserve deputies) were on the air and headed for Dixon within minutes. Our massive response that night would have enabled us to handle almost anything that followed and it took a few minutes before we understood that due to Don’s actions, there was no further threat to the community from this incident.
We were also fortunate that two of our paramedic-trained deputies got to Don fast and were able to treat his wounds before the medics arrived so we also had a fairly clear understanding of Don’s actual injuries that night. That knowledge helped ease our mindset as much as that could have been done when you know that one of your men has been shot. One more time I would like to say, “Well done, Deputy Don Hayden!”
In other milder news, if you are a vendor who does business with us, I would like to advise you that the Pulaski County Clerk’s Office has announced that the cut-off for this years’ billing process will be Dec. 15. Any bill submitted after that date will not be paid until the 2010 budget process has been completed. So if you have a bill to present, please do not be tardy.
Once again, I seem to be at the end of another column. Please drive with care for we have had way too many injury accidents of late. Please keep your actions legal for we do not want your jail business, but as I have said before, if you must visit us, we will leave the lights on for you.