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Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney was the keynote speaker at the Starkville Rotary Club meeting Monday, where he gave a report on the state of his department during the first 11 months of his term.
He highlighted several successes under his administration, such as Oktibbeha County Sheriffâs Department becoming one of only four county law enforcement agencies in the state to earn accreditation from the Mississippi Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission in November.
OCSD has also obtained several grants â mostly from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety â to purchase equipment such as bulletproof vests handheld breath alcohol testers and to have more manpower on hand to enforce seat belt and DUI laws during football game day weekends.
With the seat belt grant, also referred to as an Occupant Protection Grant, OCSD was awarded $12,182. The DUI enforcement grant awarded the department $23,273, $15,000 of which was used to pay overtime.
âWhat that does is allows me on these busy football weekends is I can go in and pay a guy overtime or pay a guy on his days off to come in and work,â Gladney said. âMost of the ball games at home this year Iâve had at least eight deputies out. One of them we had 10 out. I donât know what I would have done if we didnât have those grants to be able to do that.â
Gladney noted that OCSD has made 187 DUI arrests through the month of November with the help of extra enforcement.
The costs of the 22 new vests were in excess of $17,000, but the grant pays for half, while the other half is paid for by previously forfeited funds seized by OCSD.
âIâm as proud of that as probably about anything weâve been able to do,â Gladney said. âOne of the big concerns for me back when I first became Sheriff âŠ was the bulletproof vests. We had some that were old and outdated and that really bothered me. If I send these guys on these calls and something happens to them it bothers me (even) if I give them the best equipment theyâve got.â
Gladney also discussed the countyâs R.U.O.K.? system, which is a telephone reassurance program geared toward the elderly and physically limited in which deputies call people who are signed up seven days a week.
âWe call every one of them every morning âŠ up to three times. If we donât get an answer after the third time âŠ We send a deputy out to check on them,â he said. âWeâve got about 75 people in that program now.â
Another program OCSD offers to residents is a security check for people who have plans to leave their homes for an extended period of time and want to ensure monitoring of the area during their absence. All residents have to do is fill out a form at the Sheriffâs office, he said, and OCSD did approximately 100 such checks in November.
âWeâll send a deputy by every day while youâre gone. Weâll check your home and then when you get back home weâll send a letter to you with the times we came by and checked your house,â he said. âThen at least if something happened, weâll have a timeline to go on.â
Also discussed was the countyâs purchase of 15 new patrol cars out of OCSDâs budget to replenish an aging fleet. The department will make four annual payments of $102,097.18 for the cars, which cost $26,347 individually. Each vehicle has a five-year $100,000 warranty.
âMost if not all of those cars were well over 200,000 miles on them, some of them had a quarter of a million or more on them,â he said.
âEvery time I turned around I was putting transmissions in or air conditioners. We were able to get 15 new ones and weâll be able to sell these 20 old ones and offset that cost some and get our fleet back in really good shape. To me, when you get that many miles on something itâs a safety issue.â
He mentioned that in the first 11 months of his term, OCSD averages 471 response calls per month and had a total of 5,187 calls through November.
âI was told back in 1996 or (199)7 the sheriffâs department went to four shifts and they were averaging 80 calls a month. Weâre still at four shifts (with) four people to a shift and 12-hour shifts and weâre averaging 471 calls. The month of September we answered âŠ 631. That was right in the middle of football season, so a lot of that was because of that, but those guys answer a lot of calls,â Gladney said.