NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS:
As we get settled into the new year, the Sheriff’s Office and our deputies and employees will be involved in a number of upcoming events and training. Hosting and participating in public events and providing all necessary training to deputies is an important responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office. We try to accommodate all requests from the public for participation in various community events and activities throughout the year if we possibly can. The amount of training we can provide or send deputies to throughout the year is dependent upon our ability to keep on duty staff at operational levels and the state of the overtime line item in our budget.
The community events and training that are scheduled in the next few months includes:
ENFORCEMENT OF PROTECTION ORDERS:
Approximately 24 deputies actually attended this training last week. Retired Circuit Judge Robert McCorkindale and the Executive Director of Serenity, Inc. presented deputies with a two (2) hour block of instruction and open discussion concerning the enforcement of Orders of Protection. Several points concerning enforcement and other issues were cleared up, and I think everyone should now be on the same page when handling these incidents.
STANDARDIZED FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING:
The Sheriff’s Office will be hosting a three (3) day training class in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) on February 5th, 6th, and 7th. This training will be provided by nationally accredited instructors and will be held at the Emergency Services Training Center in Midway. We estimate that at least thirty (30) officers from this department and other area law enforcement agencies will attend. The course content will include the effects of alcohol on the human body; the dynamics of DWI enforcement; legal aspects of DWI enforcement and SFST; and practical exercises by administering SFST on “live drinkers” to check their impairment. The three SFST that are given are: 1) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus; 2) Walk and Turn; 3) One Leg Stand. These three tests have been shown, through extensive scientific research and field testing, to be reliable and valid in assisting officers in determining impairment of drivers who are potentially DWI. Most courts now recognize only these three SFST as being legitimate and valid field sobriety tests. It is crucial that officers be properly trained and certified to administer SFST in the field to gain evidence of impairment to make an arrest and present the results as evidence in court. Each BCSO deputy becomes certified in SFST within months of having graduated from basic training.
RESERVE DEPUTY CLASS:
Beginning March 3, 2008, the Sheriff’s Office will be hosting a Part Time II and Auxiliary (Reserve) Officer training course. Students selected to attend this training will attend class Mondays thru Thursdays from 6PM to 10PM for a period of several weeks. The training will be approximately 120 hours in duration. Students will receive training in most areas of law enforcement such as community relations, constitutional law, civil rights and civil liability, search and seizure laws, rules of evidence, firearms training and qualification, use of force, vehicle stops, racial profiling/bias based policing, emergency vehicle operations, and many other areas. At the successful conclusion of this training, students will graduate to become volunteer Reserve Deputies with Baxter County or the agency that has sponsored them for the training.
The Sheriff’s Office provides each Reserve Deputy with an appropriate uniform and a badge. However, most other equipment and uniform articles must be provided by the Reserve Deputy at his or her own expense, including their handgun, which is generally the most expensive item to purchase.
Reserve Deputies are utilized in many ways by the Sheriff’s Office. They particularly play a very important part in prisoner transports and extraditions and in the weekend community service program. Reserve Deputies donated well over 13,000 hours of their time to the Sheriff’s Office in calendar year 2007. We simply could not function without their assistance and support. We are authorized by law to have a maximum of forty-eight (48) Reserve Deputies for Baxter County, and we currently have approximately thirty-five (35) of them, including some who are on inactive status.
The Sheriff’s Office has been notified that a FLW outdoors fishing tournament will be held on Lake Norfork from March 5th to March 8th. We generally like to have our boat on the water on opening morning to show our support and to remind participants of the importance of operating their boats in a safe manner. We also will be arranging extra patrol for area marinas, Corp parks and campgrounds, and other public areas during this event to help maintain a more visible law enforcement presence.
EMERGENCY TRAINING EXERCISE:
The Sheriff’s Office will be conducting an impromptu emergency training exercise relating to law enforcement incident within the next several weeks. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate the effectiveness of the response of our personnel, the ability to efficiently stage and assign personnel to designated locations, and to evaluate overall coordination and communications between our command staff, deputies, and communications personnel.
LAW ENFORCEMENT TORCH RUN SUPPORTING SPECIAL OLYMPICS:
Although planning is just in the preliminary stage at this point, the Sheriff’s Office will once again this year be hosting this area’s annual Law Enforcement Officer’s Torch Run in support of Special Olympics of Arkansas. Torch Runs take place in various locations throughout the state during a particular week in May. We hosted the event last year as well and had great community support. Approximately 45 officers from various agencies, supporters, and track team members from the Cotter High School participated in the run from Mountain Home to the Hickey Park in Flippin. The Fraternal Order of Police, Wal-Mart, and Magness Oil Company assisted with setting up and/or providing food and drinks for the runners at the park. I believe we sold about $2,500 in Torch Run T-Shirts, all of which went directly to Special Olympics of Arkansas for use in the programs they provide for their athletes and families.
I hope to have this year’s Torch Run T-Shirts available for sale within the next 2 or 3 weeks. More information on this event will follow later.
The Quorum Court appropriated enough funding this year to allow us to purchase a new transport van to be used for transporting inmates and at least one (1) patrol car. The new transport van is vitally needed to replace the old one that is in less than ideal condition. The new van will allow us to transport up to 15 inmates at a time and will be equipped with a specially made security insert in the passenger/cargo area. We had to advertise for sealed bids for the van, which will be opened at the Court House on January 31st at 1:00 PM. Once the bid is awarded, we should be able to immediately order the van to our specifications and have it in use within weeks. As for the patrol car, for the past several years we have been purchasing used vehicles from the Kansas and Missouri Highway Patrol fleets. The vehicles are roughly half the cost of a new vehicle, and they are in excellent condition with less than 50,000 miles on them when they are turned in for replacement in Kansas and Missouri. We have purchased several of them over the last 3 years and have been very pleased with them. It is a great program that provides us with a quality vehicle and a reasonable cost.
WEB SITE – MOST WANTED:
Our new web site continues to generate a lot of interest and continues to prompt citizen tips concerning the whereabouts of many people on our “Most Wanted” list. To date, we have been able to arrest an estimated 80 people on warrants who were posted on this site. A new addition is in the works that will add another great feature to the site. Once this is in place, members of the public will be able to access the inmate roster at the Detention Center to see who is incarcerated, their booking photograph, their charges, and other information. We hope this feature will be in place and operational within the next 30 days.
As you can see, we have a full calendar of events already lined up for the next few months. We will undoubtedly be adding to this list in the weeks to come. I’m confident that each activity, event, or class will be a success and ultimately benefit the public and our deputies. Until next time, best regards to all !
Capt. Jeff Lewis,
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