Welcome aboard one more time as we travel around Pulaski County looking at the world of crime through the eyes of our Pulaski County deputies. We do have a lot to look at as we travel about. Our calls for service continue to mount each day and we are well on track to answer another 10,000 calls this year. As I have said before, our 12 road deputies have their work cut out for them.
As we work the crimes that are committed in this county, there are a lot of factors that influence the outcome of the case. Many of those factors lead our deputies into a state of frustration. Frustration and emotion usually do not allow for clear thinking. On Thursday of this past week a group of citizens held a meeting in Laquey to express their frustration toward our department. I could not be present due to round one of the intestinal bug that is going around these parts. It is now Saturday and round two of the bug has started. So in a nutshell I am going to be forced to rely on the words of other people who were at the meeting. Capt. Bill Anderson of our department was there at my request and I am told he took a lot of heat during the meeting. Capt. Anderson gave me a detailed account of the statements made at the meeting.
In addition, the new editor of the Waynesville Daily Guide, Alan Lewis Gerstenecker, was present. As Mr. Gerstenecker questioned me, he also made comments about the statements and of course his questions revealed a lot of information about the event.
First and foremost the major problem reported by the people at the meeting seemed to be the uncaring attitude of the deputies. I doubt that uncaring was the right word. I suspect the word should have been frustrated. Every one of my deputies has the ability to seek out and obtain a much higher paying job elsewhere. They choose to work here because they care. Do they get frustrated when there are only two deputies on a shift and they take twelve calls in eight hours? Yes they do. Do they get frustrated when they submit a probable cause statement to the prosecuting attorney and no charges are filed? Yes they do. Do they get frustrated when they are forced to leave the scene of one crime before they get all the information they need because a newer and hotter crime was just committed? Yes they do. The good news is that this is an issue we can work on with extra training.
In the case of the burglary that sparked this meeting, the burglary occurred on April 27. The main suspect named was questioned and gave us consent to search his home that same day. Nothing was found; however, he was not eliminated as a suspect. The investigation continued and as it went along I contacted the Division of Drug and Crime Control of Troop I of the Missouri State Highway Patrol for assistance. We had already briefed the Troop I officer and had a game plan for the next day when I received a call from the Troop F DDCC unit and was told they were going to investigate. The case was completed and I have already sent out a news release on the successful conclusion of this case.
However, I am also told there were a number of positive comments from the meeting. The mood of the citizens present was for more law enforcement and many people there indicated they were in favor of the Law enforcement sales tax because they understood we were undermanned in the manpower area. Many of the citizens at the meeting wanted their homes to be secure and were willing to pay the price. This is something I have been told by many people over the past several years. Only time will tell if any action will ever be taken on this issue. Yes, there were people at the meeting who did not favor my proposal for a law enforcement sales tax.
In other news, I have faxed an agreement back to a car dealer to purchase a 2003 Ford with 104,000 miles as a replacement for a vehicle that was recently wrecked. Our purchase price was $4,060 and $3,300 of that came from the CLERF fund. I hope to have the vehicle in our hands within the next 10 days so we can start installing the equipment in the car.
If you are a citizen of Pulaski County who has a police scanner, then you know how busy we are at just about all times. If you do not have a scanner, then you do not understand. I believe that I need to revamp my procedures to issue news releases on all incidents, not just the major incidents.
As an example, in just the time that I have spent typing this column on a Saturday afternoon, our deputies have been sent to a reported gunshot victim in a vehicle and the Waynesville police had a short pursuit with a vehicle that would not stop for them on North Highway 17. The Crocker police tried to stop the same car and they had a pursuit. Now they are currently reporting the Iberia police are in pursuit of the vehicle. There was a motor vehicle accident somewhere (I missed the location) and the Waynesville police are dealing with a suspicious person. These are just the news bits that I picked off the scanner while typing over the last 90 minutes.
My point is that Pulaski County has changed in a drastic way over the last twenty years and we need to be better prepared for the future. The legal requirements necessary to make a case have not changed for the best. They have become much more complicated and demand much more time and proof. Like it or not, the entire criminal justice system is weighted in favor of the defendants.
Until the time arrives for our next column, please drive with care and please stay away from our jail. Pulaski County cannot afford to house you in the jail, but the jail lights do work.