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The Sheriff’s View #3 for Jan. 12 to 16, 2009
The Sheriff’s View #3 for Jan. 12 to 16, 2009

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard one more time for another trip around Pulaski County with the Deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department. It has been a hot and cold month so far, crime-wise. That phrase also applies to the weather we have had so far this year. I actually had the air conditioning on in the car one day this past week. The sun had heated up the car to the point where I had to use the air conditioning. Weather-wise today, you'd better have your good coat with you on routine patrol.

I read in Saturday’s Daily Guide that the Commissioners have removed the full coverage insurance from many more of our vehicles. I took the liberty of checking with our insurance agent and he told me that by dropping the comp and collision on the nine patrol cars the county saved a total of $2,286. If we wreck a car we might be able to find a good used Ford Crown Victoria replacement for about that price. The question will be - do I have the necessary money on hand for the purchase if we can find one. One guy told me to send the bill for the new car to the County Commission but he was clearly making a joke.

We are now at the point where if a deputy wrecks his patrol car he/she may or may not be in line for a replacement unit. It has become a major struggle to replace cars in the department. I only have one fund that I can use to acquire vehicles and that fund must also purchase the police equipment that the county does not furnish. The money in the fund does not stretch very far and without cars or proper equipment our ability to do a good job in the fight against drugs and crime goes way down.

But if I were to list the items the County does not furnish to their employees in the Sheriff’s Department, then I would have a very long list to write. In the real world of Pulaski County you can make more money as the Pulaski County employee who guards a pothole in the road then the sheriff’s employee who responds to the 3 a.m. shooting incident by himself. But this is the way it always has been in Pulaski County. The Commission neglects the sheriff’s department year after year. Well, maybe I should qualify that by stating that I have only lived in the county for 39 years and I have never seen the sheriff’s department do well in the budget process in 39 years.

This year in round one of the budget talks, the Commission told me to expect to lose employees. I do not have any employees that I can spare. If we do lose people, the choice will be hard to make because our ability to serve and protect the citizens of the county is going to take a severe hit no matter how we approach the layoff issue. The choice will be between mere disaster and a catastrophic loss. The really bad news is that if we do not take any action for an increase to the revenue side of the equal sign, we can expect to lay off more people next year - and more people the year after that.

The bottom line is that the writing has been on the wall for at least eight years that bad economic events were headed toward Pulaski County. I have used this column to point that out since 2005. As a lot of readers have told me so far I seem to have hit a lot of bad news right on the head with my predictions several years before they happened. Over the past several years, all we have heard is cut, cut, cut. A budget system that relies on a continuous cutting of the budget to balance will not do well in a county where demands for service have tripled over the past five years. Maybe I should restate that to say the Pulaski County citizens who depend on the deputies behind that budget will not do well especially in hard economic times that seem to create the urge in many people to steal everything in sight.

In other news, I would like to report that the Pulaski County Jail booked in 1,296 male offenders in 2008. We also booked in 437 female offenders in 2008. The grand total of offenders for 2008 was 1,733. I do not have the numbers for 2007 at my home as I type this column, but from memory, over the past few years we have run about 33 to 34 percent female and about 66 percent male offenders.

I would like to say "Thank You" to Bill Morris and the staff at the Military Pro Shop on Missouri Avenue for the very welcome donation of 15 brand-new first class traffic safety vests. I had been looking at a grant that might have helped us buy such vests, but then they dropped into our lap free of charge. These vests have become very important to us because the local state troopers are so short on manpower. Our deputies have been spending a lot of time on traffic control at accident scenes and we needed these vests. So, thank you Bill!

In other news, Judge William Hass has set a court date of Feb. 13 for a hearing on the legal action filed by former sheriff J.T. Roberts over the Nov. 2008 sheriff’s election. The hearing will be at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the Pulaski County Courthouse. The hearing is open to the public.

Once again I seem to be over the suggested word length for a column and once again I will ask you to please drive careful and please stay legal. We do not need you in our jail. We are slated to be over budget this year for inmate board and we do not want your business. The light is on!

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