Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome once again to the Sheriff’s View column. Wow, number thirty already? It sure does not seem like we should be this far into 2011 already but here we are at three zero. Not real sure where to start for today but I did have one reader ask how the patrol car hood fried eggs tasted when we were done last week. OK people, relax: that was my joke for the column last week. Yes we probably could have done the frying last week (and this week) but I was just kidding. On a serious note I am sure the eggs would taste horrible under those cooking conditions.
We currently (at 2:07 p.m. on July 23) have a total of 69 inmates on the roster. As I write one inmate is being taken to a state mental hospital, a secure mental hospital, about one step short of being a jail for treatment. This past week we had four inmates on suicide watch at the same time and we were having a great deal of trouble trying to get them mental health treatment. It’s a long story but I will cut to the chase so to speak and say thank you Judge Greg Warren for going the extra mile for us. We greatly appreciated your efforts in solving our problem with those four inmates.
With four inmates on suicide watch at the same time, our jail staff was up against the wall, and that is with at least two staff members on for each shift. I don’t even want to think about the bad old days before the federal grant when we only had one staff member on at a time. The sad fact of life is that these inmates keep trying to hang themselves and so far we have been successful in stopping the action before we have a bad ending. My fear is that we will be busy with one inmate and a second inmate will seize the opportunity and time may be on his side for the attempt.
Our calls for service/case number count stands at 6,468 for the year as of the same time and date quoted above. For this same time last year I did not record the number. However for the next column last year we had 6,431, so we are more or less close to last year’s pace of business.
We have lost Deputy Kimbly Elrod for an extended visit with Uncle Sam over in the sand box area of the world. His MP unit has been deployed for duty. At this time, it appears that he will be gone up to 16 months on this active duty tour. We had a going-away party for him last night and made sure he understood he was to keep his body close to cover at all times. We shall miss the little varmint, but we wish him the best.
We continue to work on the new Dodge Charger that we bought. This is taking much longer than we expected but when I asked our fleet manager and main mechanic, Maj. Tom Cristoffer, about this, he told me it has been a learning process from the start. After I thought about that for a few minutes, I think I got the idea. Cristoffer can take apart a Ford Crown Vic or put it back together in his sleep, but the Dodge Charger is a whole new ball game with special challenges. For example, the steering wheel on the car was locked in position and could not be moved. Cristoffer checked with several other agencies that have Chargers and was told you had to replace the whole steering wheel unit and related parts to cure this problem, and at a very high cost, I might add. However, Cristoffer kept looking at the mechanics of the unit and finally found a small and minor part in the steering wheel mechanism that looked bad and he replaced it. Bang! The problem was fixed.
If any law enforcement agencies, have Chargers as your patrol vehicles, read this column. If you have a Charger with a steering wheel locked up, you might want to give Cristoffer a call and save a bunch of money. Cristoffer said this fix was easy. We have reached the point where our Charger had taken a couple of test drives around Buckhorn lately and hopefully it will be in full service soon.
We did another FTO (Field Training Officer program) testing board last week and we have cleared a second deputy to work solo who had just finished his training program. Our main training deputy immediately picked up another new deputy and started his training period. We have made arrangements to send two more deputies to a FTO school at the Missouri Sheriff’s Training Academy in Jefferson City in September of this year.
The world has changed over the last 20 years or so and the bad old days of handing a newly hired deputy a badge and a gun and telling him to go forth and enforce the law are over. You have to give the new deputy an extended training period beyond what he got in the formal training academy. Your end result is a much better trained deputy who makes far fewer mistakes and that is a very good thing to have made happen.
I believe that I have covered the high points for today. Please drive with care; it is way too hot to stand on the roadway at a wreck scene. Please keep your actions legal and stay out of our jail, but you should know the drill by now: if you just have to visit our jail we will leave the bright jail light bulb on just for you.
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