King guest speaker at OCHS meeting
Oregon County Sheriff Eric King discussed what is taking place with the sheriff’s office and a brief history of area caves at the latest Oregon County Historical Society.
King discussed grants the department has received since 2015 including equipment for patrol vehicles such as flashlights, spotlights and transport partitions. They were able to acquire body cameras through other funding sources including donations and fundraising.
He also discussed a grant that is supplemental funding for deputy sheriffs to increase the pay so departments may employ quality deputies and employees to serve the community. The department has also been able to provide deputies with custom fit vests. If a deputy leaves or is terminated before a year, they must reimburse the county for the vest.
The department received 10 trauma kits, one for every officer, from Regional Homeland Security Oversight Committee and King also carries a kit.
King and the chief deputy received trauma training and are now instructors. There are plans to begin teaching school faculty.
Previously, calls for service were combined with calls for Alton Police Department, the fire department, etc. However, calls have shown to decrease drastically from 2,456 in 2015 to 1,883 in 2018. This is because the calls are being split. Arrests and bookings have also been split.
Funding from sales tax has stayed steady since 2015. Funds from the jail commissary including e-cigs and jail phone goes into inmate security fund to enhance jail operations and security.
Currently, the staff includes King, chief deputy, four patrol deputies, jail administrator, three full-time dispatchers, office administrator and part-time dispatch.
King discussed future goals for the department including updating vehicles, acquiring a drone, relocating and updating the jail, officer training, increasing public visibility and interaction and ramp up enforcement. He stated acquiring body cameras has already had its advantages by being able to eliminate a false complaint toward a deputy. Regarding a drone, King stated it could be helpful during search and rescues. For instance, if the river was flooded.
Shop with a Cop is one community project the department participated in. In 2018, 67 children shopped and picked out $80 worth of merchandise at Thayer Walmart.
Oregon County Sheriff’s Office has a Facebook page and includes weekly arrests, search and rescues and other important information for the community.
King is active with My Brother 6, non-profit created by Greg Martin of Shields Solutions. The organization provides free training to officers in the region made possible through donations from Wendy’s MB6 day and shirt sales. Instructors volunteer to teach the courses.
He also discussed the annual Punkin Run, which is a dice run and auction benefit to raise funds for a memorial scholarship in honor of Eddie “Punkin” Johnson.
King discussed caves located in Oregon County. There are more than 100 caves in the county, many located in Forest Service land.
In the late 1990s, a manhunt for Carl Hollis, who had shot and killed one man and shot another, led deputies to an Oregon County cave. After he was arrested, it was discovered he had created traps in a few caves in Oregon County that had to be cleared.
Oregon County Historical Society meets the second Friday of the month at 12 noon at Country Cottage in Thayer.