Bunting says ... No breaks for drunk drivers

Thursday, August 14, 2008
Michael Bunting serves as Thayer Assistant Police Chief. He was hired as a full-time officer in Thayer in 2004. Photo by Jan Thompson

Reporter's note: This is the first article in a series aimed at introducing the public to those who serve at the Thayer Police Department.

THAYER -- Thayer Assistant Police Chief Michael Bunting, 36, is originally from Nebraska. He moved to Oregon County, Alton, in 1993. He worked for a while at Ledgerwood Lumber in Alton and at Thayer at Jones Glass .

His mother Susan Watts and sister Kathy Vater live at Alton.

He and his wife Jacquline live in Thayer. They have two children, a son 2-months and a daughter, 15-months old.

Bunting became interested in law enforcement when he did ride-alongs with his ex-brother-in-law, Calvin Simmons. At that time he was an Oregon County Reserve Officer and Simmons was chief deputy in Ripley County.

When there was an opening at the Police Training Academy in West Plains, Bunting signed on. Bunting spent nine months, or 640 hours, two nights a week and every weekend at the academy. He graduated in June 2000.

"The academy taught basic law enforcement, constitutional law and traffic laws," the officer said.

He became a part-time officer in January 2004 and was hired full--time at the Thayer Police Department in April 2004.

Bunting serves as firearms instructor for the police department and is the breathalyzer instructor. He supervises four other officers and the dispatchers for the police department.

Officer Bunting has a passion to rid the community of illegal drugs and drunk driving. He said that is the favorite part of his job.

The least favorite part of his job is answering barking dog calls. "We get a lot of them," he said.

The officer said he likes his job. "I wanted to make a change in the illegal use of drugs and drunk driving in our area. I thought by becoming an officer I could make a difference," he said.

In one year, Bunting made 72 DWI arrests, in Thayer with the next closest officer making 40 arrests.

"When I first started as a Thayer police officer it was not unusual to make two or three DWI arrests a night on the weekends. I give no breaks for a drunk driver," Bunting said.

Bunting said he plans to stay working in law enforcement as long as he can.

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