OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County Sheriff-elect George Underwood met recently with the Oregon County Commission in their office at the courthouse in Alton.
Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren said he invited Underwood to ask what his plans were when he takes his new position starting in January of next year.
"I am not going to jump into this office and start making changes. There are some things I have concerns and issues about," Underwood told the commission.
One of the issues Underwood brought up was deputies in the sheriff's department using their own vehicles. He said he would like to see the county supply the vehicles for the department. The commissioners said this has been an issue with the sheriff's department for years and they did not have an answer about the vehicles at this time.
"I am going to be doing an assessment of the jail and see what the needs are there. I will be looking at the training of the staff and would like to get some type of drug and alcohol prevention programs started in our schools in the county," Underwood said.
Underwood told the commissioners his long term goal was to build a new jail seperate from the courthouse.
Warren told him since the fire earlier in the year at the jail the jail had been remodeled. "Moving the jail would be a good idea if the county had the money to do so," Warren said.
Underwood, originally from Myrtle, has worked away from Oregon County much of his adult life, mostly in the prison system in Florida. He has law enforcement training from Florida but not from Missouri.
The commissioners asked him if his Florida training would be accepted in Missouri.
Underwood seemed to think his Florida law enforcement experience would somehow apply toward becoming a certified or licenced law enforcement officer in Missouri.
The commissioners said they were not sure if the state would recognize his Florida law enforcement training.
In Missouri, a person does not have to have a law enforcement license to be a sheriff. In many larger areas of the state it is an administrative position, although it never has been in Oregon County.
When asked if he was going to be a working sheriff, Underwood said, "I am not going to be a desk sheriff."
Underwood said he would be checking with the Missouri Sheriff's Association to see what he needs to do to obtain a Missouri peace officer's license. He said he would have his certification before he took office in January.
He told to the commissioners about some of the other ideas he had for the sheriff's department including possibly setting up an advisory committee that would meet once a month to address some issues and concerns in the county.