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ICE inspection is a success-Wakulla Times October 2013

By CHARLIE CREEL
Sheriff, Wakulla County

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office was full of former jail administrators, wardens and detention experts earlier this summer when the WCSO was asked to pass an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) inspection.

The three day ICE detention facility inspection concluded with an outstanding 100 percent inspection report. The inspections are required for the WCSO to continue to house federal detainees. One of the few concerns raised was an aerosol can not being stored properly inside an office. The can is no longer an issue as it was disposed of. This was out of 38 standards and 650 components. The inspection included both the detention operation maintained by the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office and the jail medical operation maintained by Armor Correctional Health Services.

The inspection was conducted by several experienced corrections professionals working for The Nakamoto Group, a group contracted with the federal government to conduct jail inspections nationally where ICE detainees are housed. The WCSO began housing ICE detainees in 1991 and the inspections are conducted annually in late summer or early fall.

At the conclusion of the three day visit, the inspection officials gathered inside the Emergency Operations Center Conference Room to give us their verbal report on their findings. I attended the meeting along with Undersheriff Trey Morrison, Maintenance Director Robert “Pete” Cochran, Major Jared Miller, Lt. Lindsay Maxwell, Captain Jackie Martin and Detention Deputy Randy Barnes. Major Miller, Captain Martin, Lt. Maxwell and Deputy Barnes all work within our detention facility with Major Miller at the helm.

Major Jared Miller commented that the detention staff in the jail learns something new on each jail inspection visit. He also told the inspectors that the ICE detainees are a great source of economic impact in Wakulla County and provide jobs and financial spending to Wakulla County.

Inspectors told us that whenever they requested information from the WCSO it was always provided with a quick response. They also spoke about how incredibly comprehensive the inspections are with more than 650 components attached to 38 standards under review.

There were plenty of compliments for our medical unit which is operated by Armor Correctional Health Services. We have a very good working relationship with Armor and the company provides a wide array of medical services to the detainees as well as the rest of the local jail inmates.

Some of the other areas of inspection included food service, environmental health, recreation, grievances and religious requirements.

The inspectors spotted an aerosol can in an office and shared their concern about the can with the staff. The concern was eliminated when the can was thrown away.
Inspectors were particularly complimentary of our staff and Lt. Lindsay Maxwell who assists the inspectors when they are in Wakulla County. Lt. Maxwell is an asset to the sheriff’s office and is a critical component to making sure our inspections go smoothly each year.

Interviews were conducted with both WCSO staff members and detainees during the course of the ICE inspection to get a full view of how the WCSO treats federal detainees.
Major Miller also does a great job in making sure the inspection goes well and the WCSO is capable of maintaining the ICE detainees. We all know how important the ICE detainees are to our overall operation of the jail and law enforcement operation.

The members of the Nakamoto Group are all retired corrections officials who are experts in their subject matter. The WCSO has been successfully housing ICE detainees since the program began in 1991. We are happy to have the detainees and the income they bring to the county. We have also been working with Congressman Steve Southerland to address a minimum number of detainees guarantee with ICE as well as a longer term contract. Right now we are on a year-to-year basis contract.

Congressman Southerland has promised to help us address our concerns and even set up a meeting with ICE officials in Washington, DC if necessary. We appreciate his support and taking the time to meet with us recently in Crawfordville.

The Nakamoto Group is based in Jefferson, Maryland and flies in their experts from around the country whenever an inspection is required. The most recent inspection began on Wednesday, Aug. 7 and concluded with our group meeting on Aug. 9. Nakamoto’s experts average 26 years worth of experience in corrections security management as well as many other aspects of institutional detention.

In other matters at the WCSO in recent weeks:

* Lt. Mike Kemp and Joel Wier of Ochlockonee Bay were recognized by the Wakulla County Commission with Hero Lifesaving Proclamations. Dennis Foggy of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Post 758 in Tallahassee also recognized the two men. Foggy presented Lt. Kemp with a Medal of Valor. Lt. Kemp and Joel Wier responded to a distress call for two Tallahassee teenagers and their father who were struggling in the Ochlockonee River in stormy weather. The teenagers were in a kayak that capsized in the summer squall and the father jumped off Walker Bridge to try to assist his son and daughter. Joel Wier provided the vessel that allowed Lt. Kemp to rescue the three people and bring them to safety.

* The WCSO received a Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) grant from the federal government to provide a new Chevrolet Tahoe for Special Operations. The vehicle has many of the latest pieces of technology and is drive by Sgt. Mike Helms.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) funds several grants in Florida each year to assist agencies in their efforts to keep the public safe. The Tahoe is being used for traffic enforcement, traffic safety and educational purposes.

Sgt. Helms has a great deal of high tech equipment on the vehicle that allows him to do his job more effectively. One of the first things you notice about the Tahoe is that is has 50 emergency lights positioned all over the vehicle to make it safer for the sergeant when he has traffic stops on the side of the road. The siren has a unique mixture of sound as well where even those individuals who might be hearing impaired can feel the shaking of the ground as well and take notice of the emergency vehicle.

* A burglary investigation was conducted by deputies and detectives in Crawfordville that used DNA evidence to link the suspect to the crime scene. The DNA link allowed the sheriff’s office to not only make an arrest in the case but also recover the stolen property for the victims. This was a case where great cooperation between the WCSO and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) resulted in a quick and successful turnaround of DNA analysis to bring the case to a swift and successful conclusion.

* A 55-year-old Tallahassee man drowned at Mashes Sands Beach while enjoying the coast with some friends. The victim was 100 yards offshore when he began to struggle in the surf. The victim was brought back to shore by his friends but the efforts by citizens to revive the man with CPR onshore were unsuccessful. The citizens kept performing CPR until law enforcement and Wakulla EMS arrived on scene.

* Four WCSO Jail inmates were successful in obtaining their GEDs during the summer following weeks of tutoring by Wakulla County School District teacher Don Franks. While in custody the inmates can take classes to work toward successful completion of their GED. Congratulations to Lameka Harris, Taylor Henderson, Robert Barwick and Brian Kilpatrick for your hard work. Half of the inmates who took the test in July passed it.

* The WCSO Litter Control Unit collected 10,445 pounds of trash during the month of July. The unit works as many days of the week as possible to fulfill a contract agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation. Once the state roads have been cleaned the WCSO litter crew turns its attention to the county roads for more collection of trash. The high water mark for weight collections through the first seven months of 2013 was April with 13,990 pounds of trash. The low month was June with 7,965 pounds. The total amount of weight collected through the first seven months of the year was 72,075 pounds of litter.

* The WCSO Narcotics Unit eliminated a methamphetamine lab at a Crawfordville home following the execution of a search warrant. A male subject was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, sale of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and sale of marijuana. Later, a female subject was charged with child endangerment for allowing juveniles to live within the home near the dangerous chemicals.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful and safe fall football season as we get ready to embark on the 2013 holiday season very soon. Remember, don’t drink and drive and don’t text while you drive. If you do, you become a danger to yourself and to others.

 

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