Welcome aboard on a very nice spring day in the Ozarks. It is a very nice day to be outside in the pollen and sunlight. As I write the column this Saturday morning, I am listening to the radio traffic of the deputies who are currently working. It sounds like two of the deputies are serving papers, one is on a call, and one deputy is working the traffic grant on his day off. So if something blows up we could send four deputies at once to a call. I must say that the idea of four deputies on at the same time makes me very happy.
I have already applied for the 2010/2011 Missouri Department of Transportation traffic grant. I asked for the money to buy three Stalker radar units to equip the last three cars that do not have a radar unit. I also asked for 800 hours of paid overtime work for the deputies to do the traffic enforcement on their days off. As a reminder this grant is completely paid for by MoDOT. We lose nothing out of pocket and the deputies get a chance to earn extra money so they can take care of their families. This grant also makes sense because it allows us to make criminal cases as we enforce the traffic laws. Over the past ten years, Pulaski County has totaled right at one hundred deaths in traffic crashes so there is a need for more enforcement.
While we are on the grant front, I can report that I have completed the required federal first quarter reports for all four of our active grants for 2010. Since we received $458,000 in free grant money, we can expect a lot of federal paperwork and the paper will be worth what we receive. However, we have even better news because I have been notified that additional money has been allocated for the 2009 COPS Grant and the feds are going to do a review in June of this year to determine which police agencies in Missouri will get the chance to add new officers to the payroll at federal expense. It would be one heck of a deal for us if we can score the grant. The feds will pay three full years of salary and fringe benefits for two deputies and Pulaski County only has to pick up the fourth year four of salary and fringe benefits. When the COPS grant cut off in 2009, they had funded the first nine departments on the list. We were in fifteenth place last year. Since the St. Louis and Kansas City police departments were funded to the tune of almost 100 officers in 2009, I have high hopes that being number fifteen on the list will not be a big problem this year. As this story unfolds I will pass on the latest information.
I have written many times now that my sense of humor in the column sometimes gets me in trouble. In a recent column I played an April fool joke, and I had been somewhat dismayed by the lack of comments about my joke. Well I walked into the wrong business in St. Robert last week and found out that my joke had received a big play from the staff. The problem was that they read paragraph number one and then celebrated for “thirty” minutes before they read paragraph number two. They told me they spent the money several times over before they got the word there was no money. They told me they could not believe the evil, black hearted sheriff would trick such sweet and innocent young ladies such as themselves with such a devious joke. The good news was they were laughing so hard it took several minutes to make all of their comments. All I can say is thank you to the ladies for sharing the laughter with me. It made my day.
We have taken delivery of another wrecked police vehicle for our fleet. The car is a 2007 Ford with 42,000 miles, and even better, the CLERF Board of Directors agreed to fund the entire purchase price of $3,200 for the vehicle. We will have to add about $2,000 in repairs and paint to make the car whole again, but that is a cheap price to pay for a 2007 year model. We will do some of the body work at a local business and the deputies will do some of the body work. When the smoke clears, we will have a low cost and reliable vehicle for the fleet. This will be the third wrecked vehicle we have rebuilt for our fleet.
Our case number/calls for service count stands at 2,946 as of 9 a.m. on April 17. I checked last year’s column number seventeen and the count stood at 2,493 on that Saturday one year ago. In 2008, the count for number seventeen was 2,986. We seem to run fairly steady from year to year on this number.
An old time comedy expert named Will Rogers was once credited with saying, “Citizens beware, the legislature is in session.” Our current legislature is hard at work this year. So far, it seems that they have reduced the inmate board bill repayment from the state from $22 to $19.58 per day. This will cost Pulaski County a lot of money that we do not have. Then I have been shown another bill that will greatly lower the odds, make that prohibit, many felony convictions from entering the Missouri Department of Corrections. In fact, for several of the crimes of drug possession, drug manufacture, stealing, bad checks, identity theft, tampering, forgery, and so forth, the person will need to have been convicted twice before he can be sent to the pen on the third conviction.
Bluntly said, I talk to citizens of Pulaski County almost every week who are upset that the person who stole from them did not go to the pen or got probation and so forth. This proposed new law will make a lot of Pulaski County citizens very unhappy. It also will NOT help the morale of our deputies. I have already expressed my disgust to Rep. David Day and Sen. Frank Barnitz referencing this bill.
I seem to be over on my word count so I will close out for today. Please drive with care and please keep your actions legal. We do not want you in our jail. But the jail lights do work!