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Supervisors Deny Request For Additional Deputy

January 18, 2018
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Fifteen people were on hand for the discussion and vote on an additional full-time deputy in the Sheriff's Office during the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

"I came before the Board a year ago and again this year, not out of my own selfish desires as some would want to believe that I want a deputy," Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes began. "But I came before the Board because of statistics, because of the fact that I feel that we need another deputy. I know that this has created a lot of controversy and for the elected official controversy is never a good thing. I'm not concerned about creating controversy. I'm concerned about doing my job and doing it the best way that I can and I feel that it is worth every bit of controversy to bring this before the Board because I think it is really needed.

"I brought this before the Board like I said because of statistics and not only the numbers but because of the severity of the crimes I feel have gotten worse. I think everybody would agree with me in looking at the press releases that this is true. I presented my stats to the Board and to my disbelief some people still think do we really need another deputy? I don't know how much worse things have to get."

Schultes continued to talk about traffic violations and the running of stop signs, which has been a major issue in the last two meetings with the Board. He reiterated that of the 895 traffic stops that we made, 516 of those people received warnings.

"I don't feel that issuing one citation a day, we should be condemned for that. We're just doing our job," Schultes stated. "People kind of got kind of set on that stop sign situation and the Board can rectify that real easy by pulling every stop sign in the county if that's what you think is needed. If you don't want us enforcing the stop sign and other traffic codes then you have in your power to remove those signs, but I'm guessing they were put there for safety concerns and it's okay it seems like for the Board to put stops signs at intersections for safety but then the Sheriff's Office should be criticized for issuing citations. I think that's wrong.

"The other comment I have heard is 'Do you arrest too many people?' I don't think that here is a magic number out there of people we should arrest. We arrest the people that the law dictates we should arrest and then they are prosecuted. The court evidently agrees with us because our jail time has doubled from just a couple of years ago and that is why we are holding inmates in Clay and Kossuth Counties and even sometimes up in Emmet. I don't know if you want the people who strangle their girlfriends to go free or the people that shoot at each other south of town or west of town. I guess if that is your request it's not going to happen. We are going to continue to do our job and we are going to continue to do it well."

Schultes continued to say that the next item is about cost and that it was mentioned last week but no revenue amounts were forthcoming. When asked again an amount of at least 50 percent was given.

"Now we got a figure. It took us a month and a half to almost two months to get to that, thank you," Schultes said.

"One thing about it, I'm tired of this saying stuff on social media you keep putting on," Supervisor chairman Ron Graettinger said. "You put it on and then you say 'Everybody call the Supervisors.' Well do you know how many calls I got from that, I never got a call? I did get an email."

"Then why are you so upset about it Ron?" Schultes asked.

"What I'm upset about is we've got it in the paper, why does it have to come out to get everything out like that on social media," Graettinger responded. "It goes in the paper every week and if they want to come in, you keep telling them to call us. The only calls I've gotten is one call from Ruthven and they were in favor of it and I've talked to people on the street and they are not in favor it and we have to listen to our constituents."

There was some further discussion between the Board and the Sheriff regarding additional revenues that could potentially pay for an additional deputy before public comments were asked for.

Members of the Emergency Medical field directed comments telling the Board how important the deputies are when it comes to the safety of ambulance personnel and how important an increased wait time can be in a life or death situation.

"We need this deputy for our safety," Graettinger EMT Ruth Petrich commented. "Not for just EMS but for our small towns. I mean stuff happens. I'm sorry but they know when the police officers are in town and when they are not and when they can get away with doing crap."

"Is there a deputy on duty all the time?" Supervisor Roger Faulstick questioned.

"Yes," Schultes replied.

"Will another deputy disperse the hours or how does that change what she is talking about?" Faulstick asked.

Schultes explained that by having another deputy, there would be additional coverage especially overnight.

Another Graettinger EMT commented on the alleviation of a drug house and she saw the hours deputies put in when her bother committed suicide. She also raised the question about dollar amounts and that there is no way to put an amount on the life of her children or herself.

"We work for the people," Supervisor Keith Wirtz responded. "I received calls all weekend and Monday stating you guys do not need to spend the additional money."

"I think the Sheriff's Department is doing a hell of a job," Dan Chism Emmetsburg resident began. "I lost a son-in-law in July and my daughter said, 'what if a deputy wouldn't have been there?' but he was and this was the middle of the night. I hear all these reasons, but the deputy has always been there. Maybe if you could give me examples of when someone has died, I could vote for another one but we haven't seen that."

"This town and this county itself, sits in a bubble," Deputy John King stated. "Emmetsburg is the second safest city in Iowa; which is totally false. There is a lot of things that happen in Emmetsburg that go unreported. You guys sitting here probably have no clue about the meth [methamphetamine] problem and the heroin problem that's coming in, the cocaine problem and all these things because you're not part of law enforcement."

King went on to point out that when traffic stops are made; they become a valuable investigative tool to help put people in jail.

"Mental health is huge. I'm asking more of a proactive rather than reactive," Janet Lampe, wife of Deputy Travis Lampe. "My husband is a night deputy who works by himself some nights. We have kids. I don't want him to get shot and killed by himself and explain why there is only one person and why no one could help him because we don't have enough staff."

"I may have a target on my back when I leave," County resident Leon Wojahn said. "We have a very good community. The sheriff and deputies do a great job. But at the same time we have to stop this spending. Our taxes are getting higher and higher. I am a landowner and I am a taxpayer so I do have meat in this game. I believe we are looking at this the wrong way. Yes, You cannot put a price on someone's life, I'm not even going to go there, but if you only have so much money in the budget, then maybe we are looking at this wrong. Maybe instead of getting more deputies, maybe we need to get a sheriff that can manage the resources that are available now. Nobody is holding a gun to his head say he has to have this job. If he can't manage the resources and people he has available, then maybe it's time for him to move on and we elect a new sheriff."

Passions ran strong on both sides through more discussions. However, a decision not to hire an additional deputy was unanimous at this time. It was made clear that nothing is ever set in stone and that in the future a different decision may be possible.



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