An update from the Wadena County sheriff
As I start my sixth year in office as your sheriff, I hope you all had a safe and happy holiday season. For those of you who lost a loved one this past year, I hope that you find some comfort in your many special memories and in the thought of the happy times you shared together.
It has been an honor to serve as your sheriff for these past five years. The Wadena County Sheriff's Office had another busy year in 2011, with 4,746 calls for service and total calls county wide was 15,362 calls. These calls include law enforcement calls, fire departments, first responders and ambulance, with the bulk of these calls taken by dispatchers or officers.
We have a great staff at the Wadena County Sheriff's Office who take great pride in their work. This past year, our Jail received a 99.12 percent rating from the Minnesota Department of Corrections; we have an excellent rating among the 87 counties on suspense files again this year; and we ranked high in clearance rates in solving cases putting Wadena County in the top one-quarter in the state. Our employees are people dedicated to serving you and believe in what they are doing in making Wadena County a safer place to live on a daily basis to protect and serve the residents of Wadena County. As sheriff, being surrounded with such good people makes the job that much more rewarding and easier to accomplish great things for the residents of Wadena County. Much of the hard work that goes into making Wadena County a safe and healthy place to live are beyond the sights and sounds of the public by dedicated employees of the Wadena County Sheriff's Office and if you get a chance, please take the time to thank these men and women for the job they do every day for you.
We continue to be very proactive in obtaining grant funding for extra patrol for the Safe & Sober Shift; Zap Program (through CHAMPS); Alcohol and Tobacco compliance checks (through CHAMPS); Sex Offender compliance checks; ATV; Boat and Water and Snowmobile patrol. These various grants allow us to place more patrol in Wadena County during peak times of the year and make sure our county is a safer place to live and visit without an added cost to the taxpayers of Wadena County.
Technology improvements for Wadena County Sheriff's Office 2011
Wadena County Sheriff's Office recently brought the 800 MHz radio system into operation for deputies and dispatch, training sessions start with fire and EMS personnel in upcoming weeks to bring all users to a full understanding on how this system works. 800 MHz is a state-owned system and is maintained by the state. Wadena County worked through grants and spent very little money on improving a radio system that will progress into the future. This radio system allows users to be tasked into groups and eliminates talk over and too many voices on one channel. Law enforcement, fire, EMS, first responders, and other volunteer groups will be assigned a group to work within, while dispatch and law enforcement monitors all channels. Wadena County spent approximately $10,000 to implement this system which is a fraction of the overall costs otherwise covered by grants. We recently also followed up with additional portable radio purchases on grant and matching funds to place these radios in social services vehicles and highway vehicles.
Wadena County also is in the process of implementing E-Charging and E-Citation. These systems allow for efficient use of officers' time by using computers to sign complaints and issue citations. E-Charging allows officers to complete their reports electronically after review by supervisors the report would be cued to the city or county attorney who would review the case for charges. If charges are determined, the attorney will draft complaint return the complaint electronically to the supervisor who will sign and return such to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will then forward the complaint electronically to the court where the judge will sign the complaint or return it unsigned with information on why the complaint was not signed. This process is more cost effective as it uses of paper and is more efficient use of time. This improvement cost was minimal, namely $2,400, which is reimbursed by BCA to Wadena County.
E-Citation is a process for traffic citations; this system is used in the patrol vehicles and completes a citation with no errors in statute numbers and correct charges. For the citizen who receives a citation, it is electronically sent to a court location, currently in Willmar, for processing. Citizens still have the option to challenge the citation or if it is a payable mail the fine to the appropriate location. The Minnesota court system is proceeding to E-Filing which all process will be stored electronically. Wadena County has positioned itself well in adapting to the future of the court system and the needs of the citizens with very little new money in implementing these systems.
The Wadena County Sheriff's Office recently won a grant for the implementation of new mobile camera systems in patrol vehicles. Digitally Alley was recently placed in all patrol vehicles at no cost to Wadena taxpayers in new money. This system is very advanced and allows for accurate recording of deputies in their interactions with citizens in DWI stops, traffic stops, pursuits, domestics and other law enforcement functions.
The sheriff's office implemented a new policy system called Lexipol for both the sheriff's office and the jail. This system is electronic and allows the deputy to view the policy of the sheriff's office from his/her patrol vehicle on a laptop when a question arises as to how to proceed with a situation. Daily Training Bulletins keeps deputies up to date on a variety of different circumstances throughout the month. Their answers are electronically stored and reviewed by supervisors every month. The custodial section of Lexipol is now being developed and the same procedure will be followed by jail staff.
Securus phone system for jail use, allowing inmates to talk with family, lawyers and friends has been upgraded at no cost to Wadena County. Video visitation is being installed allowing for the jail to remain secure and no person entering the secure portion of the jail. Visitors will now speak with inmates in the lobby through a closed circuit viewing with whoever they are visiting. This improvement has allowed for more space in the jail as the visiting room can now be used for a holding cell and storage. This system allows for updating our camera security for the courthouse and other county buildings without additional money from taxpayers. A kiosk system was put in the lobby for money to be applied to inmates' accounts by family and friends directly to their accounts. Bail can also be posted through this system. Inmates can also use the phone system to order canteen and personal effects from the phone system and then their account will be billed.
Technology is a critical ingredient to best serve the citizens of Wadena County, both in the short term as well as long term management from the Wadena County Sheriff's Office.
An area of most importance to me is my budget. The Sheriff's Office budget consists of more than 100 various line items which make up the overall $1.7 million budget. These line items cover the sheriff's office, jail and emergency management. At all times, I work very hard and diligently to manage taxpayer dollars and as such, we have consistently come in at or under budget. These last five years have been very difficult in managing a budget when we have stayed the same on budget with very little increase in line items and cost of services continue to rise. I know you the taxpayer also struggle with making ends meet and so I just want you to know I think about this daily. I am very fortunate to have a great staff of administrators to assist me in the sheriff's office to maintain this very important area of our operations. The sheriff's office budget for 2012 will be the same as 2011 with no tax increase in this area. As your sheriff, I run a very tight ship when it comes to managing your money. We have had to make some very tough decisions when it came to the budget this year in what we need to keep people safe. A sheriff takes the oath of office to protect and serve his/her county and they should never jeopardize public safety at any expense.
As your sheriff, I look forward to working for you in 2012 and want you to always know what an honor it is to serve you. I thank you for your continued support and as always, I promise to do my very best, set the bar high for my staff and myself and to always make sure you the residents of Wadena County are well served and protected.
I wish you and your families a safe 2012 year, and if you have any questions for me, please feel free to call me anytime at (218) 631-7600 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.