|Wakulla Times Article January 2012 Fall Activities At WCSO|
FALL MONTHS HAVE BROUGHT THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE A VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES AS WELL AS A NEW SHERIFF
By SHERIFF DONNIE W. CRUM
The fall months have been busy with change at the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. Longtime Sheriff David Harvey spent his final days in office as we approached the end of the month of September. The former sheriff was in office for 35 years and had all kinds of goodies stored in his office. Being sheriff for more than 30 years helped create millions of memories, memorabilia and full closets.
We wished the sheriff well with a gathering of friends and colleagues at the sheriff’s office Emergency Operation Center conference room and at the Florida State University Center where many friends wished the sheriff and his wife Rhonda well in their next adventure.
Prior to Sheriff Harvey’s final day, Governor Rick Scott appointed me as the new sheriff. There were meetings and media appearances involved in the new post even before I ever had a chance to change my office location. Governor Scott selected me as Sheriff’s Harvey’s replacement on Sept. 28 and Sheriff Harvey’s final day in office was Sept. 30.
September quickly slid into October and many of the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office staff was present at Sopchoppy Southern Baptist Church on Oct. 5 where Wakulla County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford conducted the swearing in ceremony which included my family. During the ceremony, Undersheriff Maurice Langston and I presented credentials to our sworn deputies who were not working during the evening. Major Jared Miller and I presented credentials to the corrections staff that was able to attend.
The swearing in ceremony was an opportunity to share the joy of the occasion with family, church members and members of the public. It was a special night for everyone. Even K-9 Gunny was present to be part of the ceremony and picked up his credentials from his handler, Sgt. Ronald Mitchell.
Sheriff Harvey left behind big shoes to fill but I have my own shoes and years of experience and ideas to implement. The entire process of changing sheriffs was emotional after working with Sheriff Harvey since the 1970s.
We have had a wide variety of activities at the sheriff’s office in the weeks that have followed the transition.
-The Wakulla County Commission voted to name the sheriff’s office complex after David Harvey and the appropriate lettering was placed on the WCSO welcome sign outside the parking area. The former sheriff served Wakulla County for 35 years.
-K-9 Gunny and Sgt. Mitchell spent the day before the swearing in ceremony tracking a missing child in a thickly wooded area near the coast. Gunny tracked the child’s scent until Sgt. Mitchell made visual contact in the woods and offered the child an opportunity to pet Gunny. The child stopped running and came to Sgt. Mitchell who carried the child back out of the woods as Gunny retraced the route.
Some of the Tallahassee media covered the swearing in ceremony along with the opportunity to conduct interviews with the K-9 unit. Gunny received loud applause from the audience when Undersheriff Langston told the gathering about the missing child search.
-A former K-9 partner of Deputy Vicki Mitchell passed away on Thanksgiving after giving the sheriff’s office several years of outstanding service. Dante had become a family pet of the Mitchells after retirement from being a service dog.
-The sheriff’s office conducted a terrorist exercise that included an active shooter in the county commission chambers in November. The exercise gave our deputies a chance to address a variety of scenarios inside the boardroom while evaluators took notes on how well they reacted to the different situations.
-On Halloween, Wakulla County deputies carried candy in patrol vehicles to share with the hundreds of children they encountered during the Oct. 31 Trick or Treating.
-I was pleased that we were able to acquire a Drug Take Back bin which was placed in the lobby of the sheriff’s office. Many residents expressed concern about what to do with old and unwanted medications. Everyone knows that just dumping them in the trash is not the answer. Old medications falling into the wrong hands pose a threat to the community so we were pleased to be able to offer residents a free disposal option every day of the week.
-A dedicated member of road patrol helped crack a tough ATM burglary ring that terrorized convenience store ATM machines for weeks in 2009. A Midway man was caught in Gadsden County after we solved the multi-jurisdictional case and he was sentenced to 30 years in state prison by Wakulla County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford.
-I was pleased to be able to honor Franklin and Gracie Roberts, Frank Trussell and Bruce and Mary Lou Martin for more than 25 years of constant support of the Florida Sheriff’s Association Youth Ranches. The Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranches provide a great service to our youths and deserve monetary support.
-We have eight Public Service Officer (PSO) volunteers who give freely of their time in assisting road patrol deputies with non-arrest and non-violent cases. In October, the eight PSOs and supervising volunteer captain donated 455.1 hours in the field. Their volunteer work saved Wakulla County taxpayers several thousand dollars over the course of the month.
-A fatal traffic crash in the Apalachicola National Forest resulted in the arrest of a passenger in the vehicle who failed to offer assistance to the victim who was driving the vehicle. The victim and her vehicle were discovered by a passing motorist.
-The sheriff’s office cares about the community and every five or six weeks we invite the Southeastern Community Blood Center to park their blood bus in our parking area and take donations of blood from the community. Giving the gift of blood to someone in need is one of the truly rewarding ways to give back to the community. We are pleased to be able to offer this service locally on a regular basis.
-The Florida Department of Health approved a new Communications Manual for our staff members who work in the dispatch section of our office. Communications staff members are in the process of becoming certified which is now being required by the state.
-Three bears were struck by automobiles in Wakulla County over the course of a single week. Deputies have always been called to respond to accidents involving vehicles and deer, but the bears getting struck by vehicles were more unusual, especially three in one week.
-Green Wing Day gave the youths of Wakulla County an opportunity to visit the WCSO Training Center and Range and experience the joys of hunting and the use of hunting equipment. The event was sponsored by Wakulla Ducks Unlimited.
-The WCSO participated in the annual United Way campaign and employees of the office donated nearly $3,000 toward the agencies that United Way serves in Wakulla County. Overall, the effort of WCSO allowed the Wakulla United Way Campaign Team to reach its goal of $90,000 during a time of great economic uncertainty.
-During the past weeks the sheriff’s office has received reaccreditation plaques for both the corrections and law enforcement divisions. The thorough review took place during two separate inspection periods and keeps WCSO an accredited operation for another three years. The WCSO also passed the annual Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection. The ICE inspection is critical to our ability to house federal inmates who rent bed space in our jail. The bed rental funding helps run the WCSO operation and allows money to be returned to the county commission for use in other areas of the budget.
-A Thanksgiving meal was held for WCSO staff Wednesday, Nov. 23 to say thank you for their service over the past year and wish them a wonderful start to the 2011 holiday season.
-I want to review a few statistics that have been compiled by our staff. On a random day in November our jail population was at 247 individuals with 101 ICE detainees, 143 local inmates and three U.S. Marshal’s Office inmates. The inmate population numbers vary throughout the year. In November, the ICE detainees were outnumbered by our local inmates, but in May the jail had more ICE detainees than local inmates. Our jail capacity is 350 inmates.
-Our courthouse bailiffs keep totals on the number of people who make their way past security in the facility. The courthouse visitation numbers recently ranged from 1,711 one week to 2,099 another week.
-The litter control unit continues to be active picking up trash along the side of non-state roads each month. The weight of the trash collected varies per season but the sheriff’s office has collected as much as 27,180 pounds in June and 10,105 pounds in November. We are on a pace to collect approximately 200,000 pounds of roadside trash for the year.
-During November WCSO recorded 10 calls or more on a number of individual case styles including: 76 residential and business alarms; 29 animal incidents; 53 assists to other agencies; 11 batteries; 17 residential burglaries; 342 citizen contacts; 21 criminal mischief’s; 61 disturbances; 10 fights; 18 flag downs; 26 frauds; 13 harassments; 11 intoxicated drivers; 220 investigations; 17 juvenile problems; 50 loud music/noise complaints; 209 medical emergencies; 14 prisoner transports; 10 prowlers; 14 road obstructions; 268 security checks; 14 shots fired in area; 114 special details; 28 subpoena services; 50 suspicious people; 59 suspicious vehicles;; 37 thefts; 73 traffic crashes with or without injuries; 14 traffic enforcements; 199 traffic stops; 30 trespassing; 38 abandoned vehicles; 35 disabled vehicles; 36 reckless vehicles; 58 wanted people; 20 warrant services; 666 watch orders; and 16 welfare checks. The total number of calls for service during November was 3,514.
A weekly log of sheriff’s office activity appears on the web site, www.wcso.org, as well as on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. The top five stories of the week appear on the WCSO web site home page and the 25 most recent stories appear after clicking on the News Tab on the left side of the page. Please visit our web site and Facebook page for frequent activity updates without having to wait on area media to report on it.
Have a great 2012!