New community programs planned for 2014

The past 12 months have been challenging for the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department.
In February, the department lost retired Chief Deputy Jim Lightner. Lightner had retired in October 2012, and had continued working part-time for the county, helping with court bailiff and security details at the courthouse.
The past year was the first without a county jail, as Livingston County began transporting inmates to the Daviess-Dekalb Regional Jail in Pattonsburg, Mo. According to Sheriff Steve Cox, there are both positives and negatives to losing the jail in Chillicothe. The biggest negative concerns the lack of interaction between inmates and law enforcement officers.
“We don’t get as much criminal information from detainees as we used to,” Cox explained. “Because they’re an hour away, you don’t have that multiple-time-daily interaction with a lot of them.”
Per the agreement with the regional jail, Livingston County is responsible for only a small portion of inmate transport cost. This is a major positive, Cox said, because it frees up the department for other tasks.
“We’ve been able to refocus our schedule,” Cox said. “We have more people on evenings. A lot of times we’ll have two deputies out instead of just one. We’ve been more attentive to the schools. We’ve been able to spend a lot more time in the schools in 2013 than we probably have in the last five to ten years combined.”
In 2013, 911 dispatch responsibilities shifted away from the LCSO to the Chillicothe Police Department. Cox said the CPD is doing a great job, but the shift was responsible for the elimination of six full-time positions within the department.
“If you look at our building now compared to then, we’re down 11 full-time employees total from what we were,” Cox said. “That’s people you work with every day. They’re like your second family, so that was an adjustment.”
The LCSO website reached its second year of operation during 2013. Cox said the website, especially the ‘most wanted’ section, has been an effective tool in the department’s arsenal.
“Because of hits and people looking at the website, we’ve had people call in and let us know a lot of information,” Cox explained. “Because of their help, we’ve been able to serve those warrants. We’ve gotten people out of state in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Texas just from people knowing where these people were hiding or had some information and shared it with us.”
Looking ahead to 2014, Cox said the LCSO hopes to connect with local residents through a variety of programs.
“We’d like to put on another Sheriff’s Citizens Academy,” Cox said. “It’s been a few years since we’ve done that. That was fun in getting that interaction with our community. We’ve also partnered with the Sheriff’s Association Training Academy. Several of our officers in their off-duty time are going to be providing this instruction for basic law enforcement. It’ll be a part-time academy class. It’ll be about a year long, two or three days a week.”
Another popular class the LCSO hopes to bring back is the Power-Up program for women.
“We’ve had a lot of inquiries about this,” Cox said. “Hopefully, we can do that around March or April. We’re looking at sometime around Easter weekend to get some college kids in that. This is a self defense, sexual harassment and rape prevention course. It’s geared toward women ages 12 and up, all the way to senior citizens. Everyone who has taken it absolutely loves it.”
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