Welcome aboard for one more circuit around Pulaski County with the members of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. I have a lot to cover today so lets get started. First off, the calls for service/case number count stands at 2,271 as of 3:20 p.m. on April 11. What can I say we are off to a good start for the year. But the real good news is that at this same time last year the count stood at 2,767. That is a drop of 496 cases from last year. Let us hope that this recession in call volume continues for the rest of the year.
I had a reader ask me why the dispatch unit had so much overtime on the books. The dispatch unit for last year had 5.5 employees with a high turnover rate, which leads to a lot of training hours. The dispatch unit for 2009 only has four employees. It does not matter if they dispatch and do MULES as opposed to only operating MULES. There are only four employees and they cannot work a 24/7/365 schedule.
There are 168 work hours in one week. With four dispatch people, we can cover 160 hours without overtime. That leaves 12 hours of scheduled comp time to be accrued every week or 24 comp hours in the two-week pay period. However, the second one employee drops out of the picture for vacation, holiday, sick leave or required training, the other three employees must cover the full-time schedule.
The perfect example is currently in progress. We have three veteran employees at work with one new trainee. The three employees may only work 120 hours before going into overtime status. As a result that leaves 48 hours of overtime that must be worked by the three. That results in 72 hours of comp time for one week. That means in one two-week work pay period, the three employees will accrue 144 hours of scheduled comp time, which is banked for the future or paid out at the time-and-a-half rate.
In contrast, the addition of a single full-time employee would add 80 work hours every two weeks and that employee would be paid at the normal rate instead of time-and-a-half. That would leave us hours of “extra” time and would help prevent overtime. It would allow us to grant vacation and holiday time without picking up overtime. It would also allow us the option to recover back hours of overtime during each two-week period. That would save a lot of money for Pulaski County but it would take a long period of time.
Hopefully we are in the process of taking a step in the right direction. There is a new personnel grant on the market that will allow us to hire civilian employees. The county commissioners have agreed to let me apply for two more dispatch employees. If we are successful, once everybody is trained up to speed, we can stop the overtime and slowly begin to roll back some of the accumulated time that is currently on the books. So please cross your fingers and hope we get grant approval. Maybe I better make that hope we get the grant submitted before the application deadline.
In other grant news, the federal grant for the two deputy positions that we lost in the 2009 budget year has already been submitted to the feds for consideration. I have high hopes that we will be given the two deputy positions. The grant would be for a total of four years and will only cover the two positions we lost in January.
The work in the jail is almost over. We have replaced the wooden ceilings, added strength to several walls, cleaned out the air ducts and completed a host of other small construction details. Our old jail is looking right good at this time. We did have a slight boo-boo when the construction crew cut six of our phone lines, but the repairs have already been done. We have the inmates back home for the most part and things are looking halfway good right now. The Friday jail list had 58 names.
In other news, it was my pleasure to take two deputies to Rolla with me on Thursday and pick up the two “new” vehicles for our fleet. We had won the sealed bid for a pair of 2003 Ford Crown Victorias. One had 119,000 miles and the other had 88,000 miles. Each was equipped with a radio, siren, console, cage, and emergency lights. One had a roof mounted LED bar plus a K-9 cage unit and the other a strobe-mounted California package. We had to pay $5,500 for the pair, but we had just received $5,700 from the insurance company for the car we lost to a wreck back in January and the purchase price was covered by what we got back from our wreck. Bluntly said, we made out like bandits on this purchase.
On April 7, 2009, one of our deputies made a routine traffic stop on Ichord Avenue and hit the jackpot. There were three people in the car and two were wanted. One had an active arrest warrant and the second was a parole absconder. The vehicle stop was for an equipment violation.
As we start the summer season, we once again will be using our deputies for paid overtime traffic enforcement all over Pulaski County. The funds are from the Missouri Department of Transportation Safety unit. The deputies will earn extra cash; the overtime hours will be fully paid and deducted from the books. Even better, maybe we can help make a dent in the bad accidents that seem to plague this county every weekend. I do not have my accident statistics with me right now, but over the past ten years the death toll in Pulaski County due to vehicle accidents hovers right around 100 people. If we can help cut that number down, then our time will have been spent wisely.
Once again I will ask that you please drive with care; the accident rate is way too high already. I would also ask you to please keep your actions legal and spare us the cost of your visit to the jail. Despite the fact that many construction improvements have been made to the old jail I do not think you will enjoy the visit. But we have much better lighting now and the bulbs are on!