Welcome aboard for another column. Today I think I can say that I would rather be outside in the sun and green grass than inside at the computer trying to compose another column, but I promised that I would give you the columns to read and I shall continue to honor my political promise. However, do not kid yourself: I would much rather be outside today.
Our first topic will be the yearly case number/calls for service count as of today. That number currently stands at 2,496. I checked last year’s column and I did not give the case number count in that column so I cannot compare the numbers. We have been busy with a lot of calls lately. None of them were high profile cases, just a lot of little cases to work on for the deputies.
This past week I had a complaint from a county resident that we do not arrest the scum of our county and get them off the street to prevent future crime. As I have said many times before, we usually run two or maybe three deputies on for each shift. Many of the local police departments have work schedules that are close to the same manpower staffing per shift. At any given time we may have two deputies on duty. The city of St. Robert might have two or three on duty and the city of Waynesville may have two on and so forth.
All law enforcement agencies in Pulaski County report their monthly crime stats such as arrests into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reports which are better known as UCRs. This is a legal requirement and if you want grants on the state or federal level, you must be able to show that you complied with the UCR reporting. These UCR reports can be found on the website of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
At this time the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office has a total of 12 road deputies, three command and administrative deputies, and one part time detective for a total of 15.5 deputies who routinely answer calls in the county. That figure includes the sheriff. According to the UCR reports, we arrested a total of 1,168 people in 2009 for the most common criminal offenses that occurred in Pulaski County. The only traffic offenses that are counted in these totals are the driving while intoxicated charges.
The other law enforcement agencies in Pulaski County added another 1,153 criminal arrests to the UCR total of 2,321 for Pulaski County in 2009. When you add up the manpower the city police agencies have and the much lower square mile area that they must patrol, I believe that our total of 1,168 arrests for 550 square miles looks pretty good. Yes, I know that we do not patrol the entire 550 square miles, but we do travel the entire 550 square miles to get to our next call and that equals a lot of travel time. As a side note, our case number/calls for service count for 2009 stood at 9,678 for the year. As a second side note, during 2009, we booked 2,053 people into the Pulaski County Jail.
As part of the preparation for writing this column, I checked with the Pulaski County Circuit Clerk’s office for the case number count for criminal cases filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court for the year 2009. According to the clerk’s office there were a total of 1,022 cases filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court during 2009. However, 220 of those cases were changes of venue from other counties, mainly Phelps County, that were sent here as part of the criminal justice process. That means 802 Pulaski County criminal cases were filed in Pulaski County Circuit during 2009. Please remember that the officers can only make the arrest and present the case to the Pulaski County Prosecutor who has the SOLE authority to file or not file a case.
The criminal case numbers do not include our traffic citations. While I was pondering the criminal counts, I realized that I had not yet released the 2009 racial profile numbers. As many of you know, each time Missouri police officers stop a vehicle, they must complete a racial profile report on the vehicle stop. The big number that is critical for the report is the race of the driver. The officer is supposed to determine race based on the appearance of the driver.
During 2009, the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office conducted 993 vehicle stops. The big number was 859 white drivers for 86.5 percent of the stops. The next highest was black drivers at 82 for 8.25 percent of the stops. The third highest was Hispanic for 37 stops followed by a tie between Asian and “other” at 6 each. The final category was Native American with 3 stops. I might add that the “other” category is supposed to be used when the officer cannot decide to what race the driver belongs.
Our racial profile report was submitted to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office well before the deadline of March 1. The AG’s office will publish the racial profile report on June 1, and anyone who wants to examine the other math related totals that the AG’s office report covers may do so by going to the website of the Missouri Attorney General after June 1.
I realize that I have included a lot of numbers in this column. Please remember that each number also translates into paper work that the deputies must complete. Even the most simple of reports takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. The complex reports may take days. In addition to the travel and report writing time, the deputies have a lot of required training time and court appearance time. The deputies also served over 5,000 civil and criminal court papers last year.
The numbers cited in this column, when looked at as the totality of their circumstances, may give you some clue as to why I feel that two or even three deputies on each shift are simply not enough to cover the needs of the citizens of Pulaski County. Some have called my presentation of facts such as these to be “whining” on my part. I consider it part of the education process that must be done in order to advance the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office for the future. If the citizens of Pulaski County do not understand our problems, then they cannot help me forge a better department. We need help! But for a positive note in closing, the light bulb continues to burn.