I rode with a Sherif’s Deputy a few weeks ago on a Friday night. As a result, I got to know some of the people that help keep protect our lives and property while we all sleeping. My primary goal, however, was to get a better idea about the current shape of our Sheriff’s Department.
I came away from the experience very impressed with the people in the Sheriff’s department. We made one stop on Montgomery Highway for a vehicle whose tag was out of date. When the driver produced the tag (he had forgot to affix it to his vehicle) he was allowed to go about his business without a ticket. This humored me because the same thing happened to me a few years ago in a neighboring county. When I produced my tag I was told that wasn’t good enough and was ticketed.
On this particular night, several deputies and a few police from other municipalities met up for a late dinner at one of the establishments on Restaurant Row. I especially valued this opportunity because it was an opportunity to meet and interact with so many law enforcement personnel at once. One of the Deputies there was a Reserve Deputy. Reserve Deputies have a car, carry a badge, a gun, and have the same authority as any other Deputy. They only difference are that they are completely un-paid. They usually work a full-time job and when needed, they fill-in to help out the Sheriff’s Department.
The experience wasn’t all wine and roses, however. The particular car we patrolled in had a minor but noticeable transmission problem, was without radar, and was not equipped with a computer. With the economy seemingly in a never-ending malaise, meeting the Department’s funding needs is going to be a major challenge.
My naive view of “being on patrol” was that of a Deputy wandering randomly around the county, making a few traffic stops, and responding to calls as they come in. What I learned is that most of the activities are carefully planned out. The Deputy I was with has several locations he has to check on several times per night. The process of checking on these places is very thorough, they aren’t just slow drive-byes and glances.
What most impressed me was something that happened when we were responding to a domestic call just before midnight. Shortly after we arrived on the scene a black SUV rolled up and out stepped Sheriff Andy Hughes. This was the last Friday before he moved on to his new position on the following Monday. Even in the twilight of his career as Sheriff, he was far from being mentally checked-out; he was still out there responding to calls.
All in all, I greatly valued this experience and I plan to do this again with the Sheriff’s Department and with other County Departments. I tip my hat to all the law enforcement officers and dispatchers in our area. They have a big responsibility and a limited amount of resources. And I think they are doing a fine job.