Welcome aboard one more time as we move about Pulaski County with the deputies of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office. Maybe I should have said as we slide about the county. I know I am tired of the white stuff and it seems like every day we get a new weather alert for a new storm. I am ready for the sun!
Today’s column might be a little thin on words. Once again, I find myself with writer’s block at the start of a column, and once again, we shall see if I can write my way out of that jam. It seems like this business is feast or famine. For last week’s column I had to cut down on topics in order to fit them into the column. This week I could use more news.
In last week’s column, I devoted a lot of print to the new budget. Somewhere along the line, it appears that I may have been confused during the budget talks. I thought the commissioners had taken the third deputy line and placed it into an overtime pay line, but it now appears that they took the money completely away. In one sense it does not matter because this will still be the best budget year ever for us even if the money is gone. The only real impact will be that an ambitious plan I had to attack the 2,000-plus comp time hours the deputies are carrying on the books will have to be scrapped. Instead, we will have to turn to plan B which will take a whole lot longer to apply and will not have a quick impact on the hours, and plan B will need a much longer time to make an impact.
Then again maybe the money is still there. I am scheduled to meet with the commission on Monday to make an announcement of some recent good news and maybe we can get to the bottom of the budget issue then. I would love to make the good news announcement in our column today but it would be more proper to share the good news with the Commission and the media firsthand on Monday.
During the past ten days or so we have made maximum use of our two 4x4 vehicles. We have them both in operation every shift. It would be nice to have a third 4x4 to use during the winter months. Major Tom Cristoffer and I have spent several sessions already discussing possible options to use our new windfall of money to buy cars with. Right up front we know that we can get three 2007 Ford Interceptor state patrol cars all with about 105,000 miles for $6,995 each. That would be a heck of a buy and would give us solid cars that would last another four to five years. It would enable us to phase out of routine emergency service the majority of the 2003 year models we still have in service. Making the switch to the 2007 models would also cut our chance of a blown engine or a ruined transmission. Those are the two repairs that make us cry when we look at the repair bill.
The 2007 models would also get a slightly better miles per gallon of gas use. Even if it were only one extra mile per gallon over the course of one full year, that would add up to a lot of money. With the news full of doom as to the coming rise in gas prices, we will need every bit of help we can get. I do know for sure that if gas goes to $3.50 per gallon this year it will hurt us quickly. I do not even want to think about the predictions of $5 per gallon gas next year, but those are problems we will face when they get here.
In other news, I have been busy with a number of end-of-2010 yearly reports that are due to a number of federal and state agencies. Most of this is routine reporting of mandates from everywhere. One such report that I have written about before is the racial profiling yearly report that comes due soon, but we have many other reports you would never dream of such as the required report to the Federal Census Bureau of a death that occurs while the subject is in jail custody. You would think the death report should go to the Federal Department of Justice or even the FBI for such an occurrence, but the Census Bureau? Even if you do not have a death in custody, you must still file a report of no death action for the year with the Census people.
We are also in the early stages of setting up another session of hands on firearms and tactics training that we are going to put all deputies through in March. We also plan to invite other departments to join us for the training. This will be along the same lines as the special active shooter training we did in 2010. It is no secret that across our nation violent incidents are on the rise, especially those incidents aimed at police officers. We must train our deputies to react quickly and with purpose when faced with such a situation. Our failure to train hard could have drastic consequences.
At this time it appears that the CEO of the sheriff’s office has once again managed to chit-chat his way through another column. Please drive with care on the snow and please keep your actions legal. Our jail is full and we do not need you there, but remember if you must visit us the jail light bulb burns bright!