Welcome aboard one more time on a wet Saturday the 15th of September. As of 9 a.m. this morning our calls for service count stood at 10,076. We had 69 inmates on the list at that same time. Business is still going good but we have managed to cut down the inmate count. I think we sent five to DOC last week and with a little luck we will send more in the near future.
In this week’s column I want to highlight the work of one of my best reserve deputies. The deputy is John Groves. John and I first met back in 1982 when as a Trooper I got in the middle of a Ft. Wood Military Police pursuit that came off the base on south 17 down by the Laclede County line. I managed to get the vehicle stopped (with the MP’s right behind me) and that resulted in the recovery of a pickup truck load of stolen military items. That car stop led to a major federal investigation and a follow up federal search warrant for a 36 acre salvage yard crime scene. The value of the recovered property and the accounting of much more stolen property that had moved through the salvage yard was at that time (1982) the largest recovery seizure ever. John was part of the investigation team from Ft. Wood on that case.
When I took over as Sheriff, John had retired from the Army and was already a Pulaski County reserve deputy. I quickly began to use him in many ways. He did many of our internal affairs investigations. I should say that on the major cases where a member of the department is accused of a crime it is more of a political process to turn the case over to the MSHP in order to show an independent investigation by an outside agency which always seems to please people much better. I have full confidence that we can kill our own snakes but people perceive the outside agency as the best way to handle said cases. But on many of these more minor incidents we will work the case ourselves. John has assisted in the judicial conviction of several of our people and the clearing of several others. I have also loaned him to the Camden and Miller County Sheriff’s for internal affairs cases in their departments.
He has assisted in many criminal cases here and again I have loaned him to Camden and Miller counties to serve on a major crimes unit in both of those counties. When we were working the murder case on John David Brown, John went along for an interview with Brown and at the conclusion of that interview he told us exactly how to speak with Brown and what points to stress. His advice played a key role in our efforts and we ended that case with a conviction. John has also worked with and led our I-44 drug interdiction efforts and most of the special checkpoints we have done around the county. When we bagged the 117 pound marijuana load on I-44 John went with the DEA to Ft. Wayne Indiana and worked the case to its conclusion.
For the past several years now John has been my point deputy on all federal cases. If we find a federal law violation here in Pulaski County he becomes the case agent. He tracks down the leads and presents his findings to the feds and if they adopt the case then he works it with them. If the feds come to us for help on a criminal case the assignment goes to John. For the most part these cases are classified and even our own deputies do not know about them because I have John reporting directly to me. And the cases will stay classified. His work has helped in many federal indictments throughout southwest Missouri and several other states in our great nation. And his efforts will help with many more indictments in the future.
About the only sour note with John is the fact he works so many hours each week (for free) that I have to stay away from his lovely wife for fear that she might shoot me some day for stealing him away so much. I suspect that both of our wives have made a comment or two that John and I spend more time together working cases then we spend with them. And unfortunately that is probably only a slight exaggeration on their part.
In other news about two weeks ago I was listening to the scanner at home and my wife asked me the usual, “What did she say?” after the dispatcher broadcast some business. So I explained some of our radio procedure to her and she said that would be something I should put in the column. So here goes just for her and for all of you.
We are blessed with a lot of radio dead spots here in Pulaski County. And I mean no transmissions into or out of those spots. Mainly they apply to the car radios but we have a few places that the main transmitter has problems with. So we have adopted a policy that requires the dispatcher to take an incoming message from a deputy and when she acknowledges the message to repeat back to the deputy the gist of what they said. This practice kills two birds with one stone. First, the deputy will know that dispatch understood his message. Second, since the other deputies on duty cannot always hear what the first deputy said by repeating the message the rest of the crew is current on what the deputy is working. We refer to this as a “shadow transmission”.
We like the idea of “situational awareness” on the part of the deputies. As the messages flow back an forth from dispatch to a deputy on a scene the rest of the on duty crew can evaluate the situation and most of the time they are headed to his location for backup as the situation grows worse before dispatch can ask them to go. This can save very vital minutes at times.
It also helps if a suspect name is used and one of the other deputies knows that person well. A word of advice or caution can be passed onto the first deputy quickly. Awareness of the situation helps the other deputy’s move into locations to watch for the suspect vehicle as it flees a scene and so forth. It also helps the sheriff keep track of events and allows him to call in to dispatch and give his two cents worth of information or directions. You could say that our radio system does not have the power to serve us well and you would be partly correct but the “shadow transmissions” help us cope with the daily work load much more efficiently.
Once again I seem to have blasted my way through another column. I hope I did not get too carried away bragging about John but I have always kept his activity more or less top secret and he deserves the special recognition today. Please drive with care and please stay out of my jail but remember the jail light bulb burns bright!