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The Sheriff’s View #4 for Jan. 19 to 23
The Sheriff’s View #4 for Jan. 19 to 23

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard for the most difficult column I have ever written. I am mad and frustrated, mostly frustrated. That is not a good combination of emotions to have when writing a column for the public to read. I suspect I am going to make a few people angry today.

If you are a regular reader of this column then you know that for the past four years I have written many times now that the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department was like a train going down the tracks and about to have a wreck because of budget issues. Specifically the lack of sufficient incoming revenue to fund the services and resources that are necessary to provide adequate service to the citizens of Pulaski County. I have asked many times for a ½ cent law enforcement sales tax to be placed on the ballot for the citizens of Pulaski County to determine their OWN fate concerning law enforcement issues.

I guess I am a political novice because I thought four years would have offered sufficient time to stop the wreck before it happened. Especially since the writing about the wreck has been displayed on the wall of the courthouse for at least the last eight years but it seems that nobody bothered to read the writing on the wall. We as a County have had ample time to study, to understand and to prevent the coming train wreck. We have failed to act. As a result the train wreck will probably occur sometime during the next two weeks. I find it extremely frustrating to watch four years of hard work go down the drain.

At the budget meeting of the Pulaski County Commission on Thursday Jan. 15, 2009, the Commissioners (not including Commissioner Farnham) were rather blunt about the Sheriff’s Department budget. I will quote from the Waynesville Daily Guide article, “The commission then presented King with two options: The county could either move the dispatch duties to the 911 center, or lay-off a few deputies.” Those are the words of the Daily Guide reporter. My response would be that I was given the choice of cutting off my left hand or cutting off my right hand. Both options are going to hurt and both will greatly decrease our ability to serve the citizens of Pulaski County. The year of 2009 will not be fun.

Over the past four years we have built up our dispatch center to be the hub of all of our efforts. Everything we do passes through or begins with dispatch. They operate one of the most vital and critical sections of our department and do much more then just talk on the radio. We cannot do with out them especially when you add the 73,000 telephone calls and 23,000 people who visited their front window to their job tasks. We need to increase the staff not do away with the dispatch staff. Our efforts to plug the hole that results from their loss will be drastic in nature.

On the other hand we only have 15 paid full time Deputies to answer calls. That figure includes myself. If we lose 3 of them then we are talking about a 20% loss in the face of a 13% increase in calls for service for 2008 over 2007. And please remember that Pulaski County has 550 square miles of land with anywhere from 51,000 to 75,000 people inside our county at any given time. The idea of 15 paid officers is a cruel joke in the real world. We have needed to double our manpower for several years now. This crisis kind of reminds me of the joke from the American Civil War about how the battle occurred with the Rebs retreating forwards and the Yanks advancing backwards. The Yanks “won the battle”. We are soon to be placed in a position were we will move backwards and supposedly have a chance to “win the war on crime in Pulaski county.”

The only people I hear cheering today are the members of the Pulaski County Drug Dealers Association. They are prediciting a 25% increase in drug sales this year. Our budget problems would be over if we could collect our sales tax from them. (Yes, that was supposed to be humor.)

I will close out my political column today with a quote from a gentleman named Winston Spencer Churchill, “ It is not good enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.”

In other news I have been too busy with the budget to cut a news release but our Deputies made a very good arrest a few days ago. We had a warrant for a subject for receiving stolen property in a burglary case and when they pulled him out from his hiding place under a trailer home the Deputies found additional stolen property from at least five other burglaries. As they frequently say in press releases he is now a subject of interest in a number of other burglaries. The cases in question are mostly from the Highway W, Rt. 7, and Buckhorn area of Pulaski County. With the large number of cases involved it also means that many of our Deputies are busy with the details of the case they worked and looking at what we now have on hand as recovered property. I will update this story when I get time.

I think I should end the column at this point. I would ask that you all drive safely and stay very legal with your actions. We do not want your jail business. We do not have the money to put you in jail. We do however have the few pennies in the budget required to keep the light on!

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