Request For Additional Deputy Sheriff Presented to Supervisors
xPalo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes requested the authorization to hire an additional part time deputy sheriff from the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisor during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Schultes began by reminding the Supervisors that in Dec. 2016, he had approached with the request to hire an additional deputy increasing the officers from eight to nine; increasing the ability to provide 24 hours a day service 365 day a year.
“The thought process behind this request is based on statistical data over the past several years,” Schultes said. “The Sheriff’s Office has become increasingly more active over the past seven years and the additional deputy request was made to continue to provide the level of law enforcement and other responsibilities legally placed upon a Sheriff’s Office that people have become accustom to.”
The Iowa Department of Public Safety publishes the Uniform Crime Report every year. It contains statistical information on specific crimes that every law enforcement organization across the state is required to report. Index crimes are comprised of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. In 2016, of the seven counties around us, Palo Alto County is third the number of Group A incidents, with Pocahontas and Clay reporting more of these incidents. However, Palo Alto County ranks first in total arrests, with 238 and our county is first for the number of Index Crimes reported. Of the eight counties, Pocahontas County is the only county with fewer deputies than Palo Alto County.
“This year has been another active year for the Sheriff’s Office with statistical data on the rise,” Schultes stated. “I feel the duty to request another deputy be added to our staff. The number of arrests and incidents continues to climb, as does the serious nature of each.
“The continued elevated activity of the Sheriff’s Office, coupled with new requests for services, such as providing security services at court hearings, trials and for various city and county meetings and with the need for elevated drug investigations, is very taxing on current staffing levels. This is especially alarming considering we have one Deputy on duty 41 percent of the time.”
Schultes went on to explain that there is more to law enforcement than mere statistics. It takes man-hours to investigate incidents. As an example, an incident this month was the second attempted murder case in one and a half months in Palo Alto County. It took four officers a total of 47 hours in a 24-hour time frame for this one incident. During investigations other calls keep coming in that must be answered.
“Maybe we need to utilize the deputies we have on better things than what we are doing out there,” Dan Oppheim, landowner commented. “Out in our neighborhood, one of your deputies was driving a grain truck and called us in for rolling through a STOP sign and since then they have picked up two innocent people for rolling through a STOP sign and they got a $200 ticket. They are tax-paying citizens in this county, but they [deputies] sat in the intersection day and night and since then they have been at an intersection to the west for another neighbor that rolled through a STOP sign and at 1:30 in the morning, they followed him. On a Sunday at 1:33 in the morning they [deputies] were out there watching farmers harvest their crop. Now that is a waste of deputies.”
Oppheim continued by saying, “You have deputies that are very hot headed. He got out of his pickup, came over to my pickup, ’cause I was yelling. I was yelling at him because it was a windy day like today and I can’t hear. I’ve got a witness and I took off and I broke a little gravel taking off. I had 500 gallon of fuel behind me. What did he do? He turned around and picked me up for careless driving,” Oppheim continued.
“I went to my insurance company and that ticket is going to cost me $1,400 a year in increased insurance payments unless I can get that stopped. Now that is a waste of time. Do we need another deputy? No!”
“I think that manpower is well put to use out there and when we get complaints; I don’t care if it’s a complaint of someone taking pictures from a road, I don’t care if it’s someone driving recklessly or running a STOP sign,” Schultes replied. “We are going to investigate those complaints because it is our responsibility. Attitudes play a lot in a traffic stop.”
“We are watching everybody that goes through those STOP signs. Should we not be out there?” Schultes continued. “Does it only become a problem if there is a fatality?”
“Those STOP signs were only put up six years ago,” Oppheim stated.
“And it takes four years for someone to be able to reads those four letters, S-T-O-P,” Schultes replied. “That’s pretty pathetic.”
With some continued discussion, the item was tabled.
Also during the meeting, the Supervisors unanimously approved a Class C Beer Permit and Sunday Sales Liquor License for the Lakeland E-Z Stoppe and set a date for an informational meeting for Drainage District 180 Lateral T Tile for Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at the VFW.