Welcome aboard one more time. Once again I shall be your driver today as we tour the world of Pulaski County as seen through the eyes of the Pulaski County sheriff’s deputies. And our world has chaos and turmoil to spare this past week. Our calls for service/case number count stands at 9,633 as of 11:45am on 11-07-2010. There is no doubt that we are going to set the new all time high record for calls this year. In fact we are probably going to blow away the previous mark by a good margin.
And even worse we are doing it with the budget reduction from 2009 where we lost two deputy positions. Our deputies continue to put in overtime just trying to stay caught up to the minute. Many of them have postponed a vacation or holiday because we have been short on manpower so the excessive time totals creep upward in those categories. Sooner or later the time has to be taken or paid out if the deputy leaves our employ. The good news here is that our deputy turnover has slowed to a mere crawl compared to what it used to be during my first term in office.
There are many reasons for that but in talking with the new hires it seems that our reputation in the LE world has climbed upward and people want to work here despite the low pay. I had hoped by now that the deputy sheriff supplemental salary (DSSS) bill that was passed into law two years ago would have been in effect by 2010. But due to a second round of law suits by St. Louis and St. Charles counties that has been blocked from taking effect. We (the Missouri Sheriff’s Association) just won the second round of law suits but we are being told that the second a check is cut to begin the funding that another (#3) round of law suits will begin to once again try and block this issue.
The whole idea of the DSSS was to stop the horrible drain on sheriff’s offices in the rural counties who just keep losing good people to higher paying departments all the time. The net result for those of us in that position was a never ending cycle of hiring and training new people. If you want first class law enforcement you generally need an experienced deputy on your case. We always put an older and more experienced deputy with the new kid on the block but that lowers the amount of work the experienced deputy can do because they are always looking over their shoulder at the new kid. And usually just about the time the new kid can act on his own off him/her goes for higher pay.
The real sad part of this is that for the most part the deputies do not do this job because of the salary. For most of them they like to chase bad guys and send them off on a state paid vacation to DOC thus making the local world a better place to live. BUT, they all have families and thus the pay does become an issue in the end. Here in Pulaski County we offer the deputies first class LE experience every year. As an example we hired a new deputy last year and promised her that she would get immediate and heavy duty LE work sent her way. In just over one year we have sent her to eight death scene investigations. She has reached the point where she can handle anything and thus has become a very valued member of the department.
We had a question this past week as to where a Sheriff draws his authority. The revised statutes of Missouri in chapter 57 outline the duties and responsibilities of the Sheriff. Section 57.010 defines the qualification needed for the office of Sheriff and names the Sheriff as the chief law enforcement officer for the county. Section 57.270 names the deputies as the assistants of the sheriff possessing the same powers as the sheriff and the ability to act in his place. The unique part about the office of Sheriff is that we are law enforcement officers who are elected by the people. The other city police departments and all state LE officers are headed by an appointed official who was placed in that position by other elected officials. The Sheriff draws his power and authority directly from the people.
I would like to mention that the annual Missouri firearms deer season in once again upon us. The noise will begin on 11-13-2010 and run through 11-23-2010. A few common sense things come to mind with number one being that guns and alcohol do not mix in any way. Neither with the firearms nor with the vehicles used to drive to the deer woods. Hunters are also at a greater risk of tripping over a tree root and breaking a leg. Ditto falling from a tree stand or tangling with a fence. Please do not shoot across or along roads and please do not shoot from a vehicle. We would like to urge all deer hunters to carefully obey the requirement of wearing hunter orange while in the woods. For that matter if you are going to be in the fields or the woods and you are not a deer hunter we also urge you to wear hunter orange to prevent any mishaps. Every year we send the ambulances out to collect deer hunters who got hurt and sometimes we need the coroner to respond. This year needs to be a safe year so please think safety first.
I seem to have hit the magic number of words once again so I will close out with my usual plea to please drive safe and please keep your actions legal. We do not need the wrecks or your body in our jail. But as I have said before if you just have to visit the jail the light bulbs are bright!