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Friday, May 6, 2016

Deputy Lee Simmons ... Following in his dad's footsteps

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Deputy Lee Simmons
The Oregon County Sheriff's Department has plenty of loyal men and women working for it and laying down the law. Deputy Lee Simmons is one of them.

Simmons acts as the head jailer and as the court bailiff. He said when he first started working at the sheriff's department in 2002 he was a dispatcher, and in 2006 he graduated from the academy and became a deputy.

Before his police officer days, Simmons said he worked for 12 or 13 years at Thomasville Wood Products.

"Every boy wants to be a police officer when he's little," Simmons said. "My dad (Lucas Simmons), well, he's a deputy (now a reserve deputy for Oregon County) and that made me think about it. I've got two brothers who are in law enforcement."

Simmons said being a police officer was always in the back of his mind. When he was laid off at his job, a dispatching position became available at the sheriff's department and he grabbed it. Four years later he became a deputy.

"I assist (in the courtroom) if they need anything," Simmons said. He also protects the judges and makes sure the courtroom is secure.

As jailer, Simmons keeps a sharp eye on the prisoners. "I make sure the inmates are doing well, keep the jail clean and make sure security stays up-to-par," Simmons said.

The security part, Simmons said, involves him making sure the inmates don't have any illegal items in the cells, and they don't try to hurt themselves or try to harm other inmates. He also makes sure the inmates are shackled properly before they are transfered or being led to the courtroom.

"Occasionally, there are inmates who don't like you or don't like law enforcement in general," Simmons said. "It's just part of the job. I mean, you can't get mad. You just got to have tough, thick skin."

Simmons is also in charge of registering the sex offenders in Oregon County. "I feel like if I keep an eye on them (sex offenders) maybe I'm helping somebody out there," Simmons said. "Here recently, it seems like we're having more come in from other areas. There has been a recent rise of sex crimes in the county, also."

There are times when sex offenders don't come in to register. In these instances, Simmons said, if he can't find some way to get in touch with them he files a warrant for their arrest.

There are some times when a police officer's job can be draining and some times difficult. "Working in the courtroom, I see a lot of domestic situations involving children and that bothers me," Simmons said.

There are also times when a police officer's heart races in the heat of the moment. "I remember the jail fire we had, the way everybody pulled together then. The whole community seemed like they were out here ready to help," Simmons said. That fire occurred Sept. 6, 2007, and killed one inmate.

"There were people you didn't even know walking up and offering you water, carrying water to you and asking if you needed anything," Simmons said.

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