Welcome to another column. This column may be a little thin because I played absent from work for a whole three day weekend. Several of our employees are reported to have fainted at the thought I would be absent for three days. But I am happy to say cell phone service was quite nice at my deer stand and even better very few people called. It would have been a great season except for the fact that I tripped and fell head long into a log. The log broke, my face did not. As with all head wounds the bleeding was worse than the scrape deserved. But the injury could have been much worse.
On Thursday of this past week the wife and I once again took part in the Veterans Day parade. And once again I seem to have hit a few folks with the candy we threw out the windows. During the parade my wife had several people yell comments to her on the cost of the candy and how many inmates we could have fed with that money. Sorry folks but the candy budget comes out of my personal pocket. The candy throwing during the parades is the only reason my wife has not yet divorced me over this job. She loves throwing candy to the kids and listening to the squeals. As long as she can throw the candy I can be the Sheriff. And for what it is worth the candy budget hits close to $1,100 each year. We do not buy cheap candy.
On the Grant front we have ordered a new bar code evidence scanning and tracking system for the evidence room. This equipment purchase was part of the $170,000 evidence/dispatch grant that we got last year and was the only equipment purchase for this grant. We hope to achieve a two-for with this purchase. We believe the system we have chosen will be compatible with our Crime Star reporting system which has the capability of assigning and printing out bar code labels. If this works out there will be a host of improvements coming because this would allow us to do a number of things like tracking completed reports on criminal incidents. If we can assign bar codes to equipment for inventory purposes that will also save us a bunch of time and I am sure we can find lots of other business related tasks for bar codes. We try to work smarter to help overcome our limited manpower.
Also on the Grant up date we are in the process of purchasing a new radar unit for our fleet. We have one full time deputy who does not have a radar unit in her car and the folks at District Nine, Missouri Department of Transportation have given us a new grant that will cover the cost of the new radar unit. Our ability to use radar helps us make more cases for a traffic stop. Many times this will help us with other cases.
As an example last week we had a possible suspect vehicle leaving a housing subdivision on Rt. T that was thought to have taken part in a reported theft incident. I met the car on Rt. T but I do not have a radar unit so I had to turn around and chase the car down. When I did catch up the speed and driving were legal. But the car did have expired July 2010 vehicle tags so the stop was easy. I wrote a few UTT’s and we also cleared the people in the car from any involvement in the incident. In our view this was just another case where a traffic stop helped out the criminal side of the job.
Our 2010 budget continues to shrink. But we are helping the Pulaski County General Revenue Fund quite a bit of late. I am told we have put $18,000 into general revenue from paper service this year. At the start of each new budget year the fee’s on paper service reset to zero. The first $50,000 we earn during the course of the year goes into the Sheriff’s civil fee fund. Once we hit the $50,000 state mandated cap any money we earn for the rest of the year goes into the general revenue fund. I use my part of the funds to buy cars, new equipment, train deputies, and a host of other uses. The civil fee fund is our prime method of progress for the department. Without that money we would be up a creek with no money to buy the required paddles.
At this time we have a few car issues but for the most part they are minor. Major Cristoffer has been working hard to keep the fleet up to par and his efforts over the past several years are now paying off big time. We seldom have any major engine/transmission failures these days. So that helps the day to day work effort. It took us several years but our careful money management plan has helped us to purchase newer cars and Tom’s heavy duty maintenance efforts keep them running. We still lack some of the special cars that we need such as 4X4 vehicles for the winter but it is all we can do to come up with our new/used cars. Please remember that in the six budget years that I have been sheriff there has been no money from the county to purchase cars. Maybe that will change in year number seven.
OK, once again I seem to have hit the word limit so once again I will close out the column by asking that you drive with care and keep your actions legal. We do not need the car wrecks or your body in our jail but remember the jail lights work just fine. The bulb does burn bright!