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Sheriff's View #8 for Feb. 16 to 20
Sheriff's View #8 for Feb. 16 to 20

Sheriff J.B. King
Welcome aboard for one more trip around Pulaski County with the deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office. Despite the much nicer weather, the past few days have been quite calm on the work front, which probably means that things will go down the pipe very shortly. I do not have anything major to report this week but I do have a number of minor items to relate.

I have submitted the 2008 racial profile report the Missouri Attorney General's Office. As you may remember, we are required to fill out a racial profile report on each vehicle stop completed by the deputies for the year. If my memory has not failed me we had 1,050 stops for 2008. In the year 2007 we had 523 stops to report, so you can clearly see that we did pick up the pace this past year.

There are two basic reasons for the higher number in 2008. First, we did complete a Missouri Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Grant in 2008 and we did a lot of traffic work related to that grant. Second, we made a determined effort to stop more vehicles in known drug-infested areas of the county with the hope that stupid driving would help us detect illegal drug use and possession.

Each year we have until March 1 to submit the report. The attorney general then has a few months to total everybody up and give a comprehensive report to the Missouri governor. Should a department fail to submit the report, then they are not eligible for any state or federal grants. So you do have some incentive to get the racial profile report completed on time.

The scheduled circuit court hearing on Friday in the lawsuit filed over the 2008 November sheriff's race did not take place. The attorney for plaintiff J.T. Roberts requested a postponement of the court date. At this time I have no idea when the next court date may take place but I will report the date in the column when I do find out.

We are still waiting for the settlement to occur in the case of the wrecked patrol vehicle from the January accident that occurred on Highway 28. At this time there is a question concerning the loss of police equipment in the accident and we are working on settling that issue with the insurance company.

During the 2009 budget hearings, we lost the services of three full-time positions and one part-time position. Specifically the positions were two deputy slots and one-and-a-half dispatch slots. There is no way we can operate the dispatch unit with only four people in rotation on a 24/7/365 day basis without incurring tremendous overtime hours by the dispatchers. Our only ace in the hole with dispatch is the fact we have one deputy cross-trained to be a dispatcher with the necessary certifications to be able to operate in the MULES system.

However, we also lost two full-time deputy positions during the budget and we have one deputy out on long-term sick leave. When we take the working road deputy off the road and put her in the dispatch unit to help them out then we are a full four deputies short on those shifts. Since there are only twelve deputies for the road duty section we were way under strength on the road to start with. Please remember that again we are talking a 24/7/365 working year to spread the deputies around.

At times the concept of the 24/7/365 work year is a little hard for some people to follow. For example, the question was asked, "Why did you buy another chair for dispatch; the one you have was only one year old?" The answer is, "Not exactly." While the chair had only been in the department for 12 months, it had accumulated 36 months of continuous use. So yes, it wears out quicker. The same concept applies to the patrol cars. Police agencies across the United States have long recognized the fact that "hot seating" a patrol car 24 hours a day leads to excessive wear and tear on the car. With triple mileage each year, the cars must be replaced much more quickly.

Our calls for service/case number count stands at 980 on Feb. 15 at 4:47 p.m. Once again I fear we shall break the 10,000 mark for the year 2009 and all I can do is pray for a recession in crime because we are short on manpower. I suspect we will not get the recession.

Over the past four years, we have attempted to improve our entry procedure into our work force by new-hire deputies. The basic idea has been to put together a solid field-training program to help the new deputy quickly learn the correct way to do the job within our system. In order to do that, you need strong deputies assigned to the field training officer (FTO) positions.

The workload that a FTO must master is not easy. Not every deputy has the correct temperament to be a FTO. As a member of the Missouri State Highway patrol I was a FTO for the patrol and trained a number of new troopers. This past week we sent two of our deputies to Jefferson City to attend the State Patrol's FTO School. It is my hope that we will put together a basic training course of at least eight weeks for our new deputies to learn under the observation of a trained FTO. This program will greatly enhance the department and produce deputies more capable of doing our job with fewer mistakes.

Over the past few weeks we have had a contract crew working in the jail on some renovations. Some time in the near future, they will finish the work and I will furnish a report on the enhancements to the jail area.

Once again I appear to have written my way through another column. Please drive with extreme care and please keep your actions legal. We do not want you in our jail but as I have said before if you just have to visit us you will find the lights are on in the jail.

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