Sheriff Requests Hiring Of Additional Deputy
Palo Alto County Sherriff Lynn Schultes appeared before the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors to present a request permission to hire an additional deputy sheriff. The presentation took place during the Nov. 22 meeting of the Board.
“I’m here today to provide you with information and to request your approval to hire an additional deputy,” Schultes began. “Currently there are eight deputies, including myself. We are responsible for 24 hour protection and coverage of the county and everyone in it, which is a coverage area of 576 square miles.”
Schultes went on to explain that there is more to the sheriff’s department than just enforcement of the law. By law the sheriff’s department is also responsible for the:
Execution and return of all legal civil papers
Conduct criminal investigations
Supervise all jails and the custody of incarcerated offenders
Maintain the sex offender registry
Respond to any and all disasters within the county
Assist other law enforcement agencies
Sustain the Iowa Victim identification and notification service (VINE)
Enforcement of all county ordinances and laws of the State of Iowa laws as well as patrolling all areas of the county.
“With all the responsibilities required by law, our time and duties have been stretched very thin,” Schultes stated. “Our statistics have gone through the roof over the past years and I am hoping the with the addition of another deputy, this will not only help us to expand our drug investigation, but to get back into the schools with programs and will also support the calls that come into the communications center.”
Schultes presented statistics showing increases in almost all types of calls responded to. Deputy transportation of inmates has risen 230 percent; the issuance of citations for violations has risen 131 percent and arrests have rised 98.5 percent.
Schultes gave two examples of how the statistics do not show the full impact of what is involved in calls.
A three and a half month long drug investigation resulted in two arrests on state drug charges. Those charges were dropped so that Federal charges could be filed instead. Both subjects entered guilty pleas to the charges, but the Sheriff’s Office statistics will show two arrests, one incident and one call for service.
The second example was a traffic accident involving two people who were air-lifted to separate hospitals for their injuries.
The investigation into the accident raised a suspicion of the involvement of drugs. So far, 49 and one-half hours have been spent investigating the accident and test results from the state have not all come in. When finished, if there is sufficient evidence, the sheriff’s department can show two charges, two arrests and prosecution.
According to the Sheriff, he is projecting upwards of 60 additional man-hours in regards to this accident and investigation.
“Even though the statistics are up, the full impact of everything involved on calls is not reflected,” Schultes told the Supervisors. “A tremendous amount of time is needed not only for these types of calls but for the day-to-day responsibilities of the sheriff’s office.”
Schultes continued, “Even thought the State Patrol has a post in our area, they are not responsible for a given area so if we ask for assistance and they can’t provide it; they can’t provide it. However, if you call and ask for my assistance, you expect me to get there. I don’t have the luxury of saying I’m not going to investigate your call. So, do they assist us? Yes they do, but are they required to and are they responsible? No, they are not.”
The Sheriff pointed out that the number of law enforcement officers in the county has declined in past years, with the retirement of two State Patrol troopers who were not replaced. Currently, one State Trooper lives in Palo Alto County.
“We are down two certified officers in our county and now they have one,” Schultes noted. ” Our availability to have help has been diminished, which might not seem like a big issue but when we have these situations that we are responsible for and other calls come in, we are tied up.”
Schultes also stressed the revenue that the sheriff’s department brings in, noting that this is a subject that is forgotten by many; he also estimated was what an additional deputy would cost annually.
“I am not coming to the Supervisors because another county has hired additional deputies or simply because I want one. I feel the statistics show the need for the additional personnel,” Schultes continued.
With time limited, a decision to hire or not hire an additional deputy was not made with the issue tabled and the Sheriff was asked to return to the Board of Supervisors at a later date with additional information and further discussion.