RECENT NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS AT THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE:
Greetings to all.
Well, I am sitting here in a motel room in Nashville, Arkansas (Howard County). I have come here in order that I may attend a recertification training class tomorrow morning on the new Breathalyzer machine recently installed in the Detention Center by the Arkansas Department of Health. I am here with Sergeant Andy Bower and Sergeant Tim Phillips. We each must be trained on this new equipment and renew our certifications. Nashville seems to be a small, quiet, pleasant town from what I’ve seen so far, but not very much to do on this night before class. The only options for our training were Nashville or Fort Smith, and we choose Nashville for a change. I thought this quiet evening would be a perfect opportunity to prepare a brief newsletter to comment on recent and upcoming events.
We are now moving toward the Spring of the year and our busiest season isn’t far away. We are renewing our park patrol contract with the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers. Deputies will again provide patrols and enforcement of state and county laws within Corp campgrounds and on Corp property this summer. Deputies work together with Corp Park Rangers to try and ensure safety and maintain order on and around the lakes. This is also an excellent opportunity for deputies to supplement their earnings by working park patrol on some of their days off, and many of them take advantage of it.
Speaking of the lake, on February 27th I was joined by several other deputies and a great many other people in participating in this year’s “POLAR BEAR PLUNGE” at Henderson Park on Lake Norfork. As most people know, this is a major fundraising event for Special Olympics of Arkansas, and the Sheriff’s Office is proud to be a part of it. We braved the icy cold water at 11 AM and with much anticipation and trepidation, we took the plunge. Wow….was that water ever cold!! At least it was for a very good cause. We also had a diver, Lt. Ralph Bird, suited up and in the water during this event for safety reasons. I understand that around $8,000 was raised, which was outstanding. Great job everyone!
We are continuing our efforts to collect delinquent fines, costs, and restitution. The Arkansas Income Tax Set-Off Program was put to good use again in December, 2009 when we filed 176 claims representing over $380,000 in unpaid, delinquent obligations. Most all of these were from Circuit Court cases. We are also continuing the process of suspending driving privileges of those persons who are delinquent and who have failed to comply with the payment orders and requirements on their cases.
Our web site continues to be a phenomenal success. With the addition of the Warrants section several months ago, we have been contacted by many people who have seen their names on the warrant list and want to clear up and take care of their charges. Many of these are for failure to pay or for hot check violations, and many are from out of state. We have been able to collect thousands of dollars in victim restitution just because people have seen their names on our warrant list through our web site.
Speaking of the web site, how exciting was it that Sheriff Montgomery was nominated for the America’s Most Wanted 2010 All Star Award, in great part due to his efforts in implementing the web site and keeping important information , such as sex offender notifications, flowing to the public? The entire staff has been extremely excited about the recognition received not only for the Sheriff but for the entire department. Sheriff Montgomery has now become one of only eight finalists throughout the entire United States for this honor. While we won’t know the final results for a couple more months, I have confidence that the Sheriff has a very good chance of winning the award.
We have a Reserve Deputy training class starting March 22nd. We had many applications and interviewed many candidates. The class is now full. We will have about 25 students for the class, including a few who are attending from surrounding agencies. About three of our deputies are newly certified instructors and will be teaching various segments of the Reserve class for the first time. Graduation is set for May 10th. We look forward to having some new Reserve Deputies who will be helping the department in many ways in the months and years to come.
The issue involving the territorial jurisdiction of elected Constables in Baxter County has finally been resolved thanks to County Judge Joe Bodenhamer. I won’t go into a lot of details involving the back story to this issue. Briefly, in times past both Constables and Justices of the Peace were elected by “Township”. A later amendment to the Arkansas Constitution changed this and provided that Justices of the Peace would now be elected by “District”. These new “Districts” did not necessarily correspond to the same geographical boundaries of the existing “Townships”. The amendment did not alter the manner in which Constables were elected. They were still to be elected by “Township”. At some later time in the forgotten past, people began filing for election for Constable by JP Districts then existing in Baxter County instead of filing by “Township” as they should have done under the law. For example, Citizen X is a resident of “Whiteville Township” and decided to file for election to the office of Constable. However, instead of Citizen X filing for election as “Constable of Whiteville Township” he instead was erroneously permitted to file for “Constable of District 10”, of which Whiteville Township is only one part of. This discrepancy was brought to light about 3 years ago and obviously created jurisdictional issues should an elected Constable effectuate an arrest in his “District” but outside of the actual “Township” In which he resided. County Judge Bodenhamer has effectively eliminated that problem by signing a County Court Order that provides that township boundaries will now share the same geographical territory as district boundaries. For example, the geographical territory of “Township 1” is now coextensive with the territorial boundaries of JP “District 1”. I heartily commend Judge Bodenhamer for taking steps to correct this well known problem.
As was recently publicized, our semi-annual qualification shoot for retired officers living in this area will be held on Friday, April 9th. Application forms are available at the Sheriff’s Administration Offices, and there is a $10 fee for each applicant. The Sheriff’s Office is pleased to be able to provide this service to our retired officers.
In closing, I want to give recognition to Mr. Jim Priest, who volunteers numerous hours of his time each week to the Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Priest is a retired officer, and he has taken on the enormous task of trying to obtain additional identifying and location information from various databases on the thousands persons named in arrest warrants, new and old, that the Sheriff’s Office has on file. Because of his efforts, we have been able to locate and serve warrants on several people whose whereabouts would otherwise have remained a mystery. Thank you Jim!
Well, that’s all for now. I hope everyone has a great month and that warm weather decides to stick around. Best regards to all.
Capt. Jeff Lewis,
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