We are off and running one more time for another column full of news from the office of the Pulaski County Sheriff. The bad news is the very hot weather. The good news is that the very hot weather has cut down the total number of calls that we have received of late. We still managed to stay busy and we had a couple of time periods where all the calls for the shift came in at the same time but in the overall view of things we had a relaxed week. Now that I have actually put those words on paper, I suspect the roof will fall in on us.
Our calls for service/case number count stands at 5,298 on Sunday morning, June 27. In 2009, the count was 4,620 and for 2008 the count was 5,239. During the past two years, we ended up with very close counts for total calls for both years. So far, this year shows every sign of being right on track. I will once again say that we sure could use the deputy positions that we lost due to budget woes. I know that many readers tire of hearing about the budget woes for us, but the bottom line is that our ability to serve the citizens of Pulaski County is dependent in a large measure on the budget figures. It is just that simple.
I have two things to report that will occur in the near future. The first is an on-site audit of our use of two federal grants. These are the grants that supply us with eight of our employees. As you may recall, the jail grant will pay us $288,000 for jail staff and the dispatch/evidence room grant will pay us another $170,000-something to cover the cost of those employees. Both grants are completely paid for by the feds. We do not have a matching financial amount associated with these grants and we are not required to continue the employment of the people after the grant is over. It would be a very stupid decision on our part to wave goodbye to eight well-trained people when the grants are over, but unless the Pulaski County Commission goes after new revenue for the county, that is exactly what we will do next year.
I believe that I got a little side-tracked there, so back to the onsite visit. Under the working arrangements of these grants we have a policy advisor in Washington, D.C., who answers questions, solves problems, and makes onsite visits to make sure that we are complying with the terms of the grant. She is due here on July 1 for that onsite visit. We have never been through an onsite visit before, so we are not exactly sure what we are getting into for this visit. I keep saying “we” because I will be responsible for the work records and tracking the work records paperwork but our county clerk is responsible for the budget issues paperwork related to the grant. So Dianna Linnenbringer and I both will be busy that morning.
A second future event will be the audit of our work with the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) as we enter and track our Pulaski County Circuit Court warrants, orders of protection and so forth. There are some very strict rules that relate to the MULES issues and the audit team from the Missouri State Highway Patrol will be here sometime in August of this year to do our audit. The last audit we passed with flying colors, but since then, we have lost all of our most experienced MULES-trained employees. We are going into this audit period with a situation where fairly new employees to our department have been training very new employees in the MULES system requirements. This is a setup for failure.
So in order to prevent that failure, I switched a part-time job from the jail over to dispatch and hired a very experienced MULES operations officer from another dispatch center to come in and help us pass the audit. Her job so far has been as a reviewing officer on the paperwork and a training officer to square away our dispatch center. We have kept her very busy so far. One future problem will be what I can do when the part-time job money runs out for her position because I can already see that we do need to continue her employment.
In another hour, I will travel to the Waynesville City Park to visit with the Cave State Cruisers Car Club and once again pick out the top car for the Sheriff’s Trophy. It is a tough job, one small trophy and 50 winning contenders, but it is one of the better perks for the sheriff’s job. At least I enjoy this one.
For now it is time to close out once again. Please drive with care because we do not need any more vehicle crashes. Please keep your actions legal because we do not need your body in our jail; we cannot afford the expense. However, if you just have to visit us, be assured that the jail lights work just fine and the light bulbs are bright!