July update from Sheriff Cox
Hard to believe July is nearly over and soon we will be looking at cooler fall weather. As with most things in life we are constantly dealing with change; some good and some bad. I won't even attempt to tell you what the latest our federal government and CDC is asking of us on Covid-19 and Masks. For most of us, this issue is very frustrating and difficult to follow while making many wonder if our government has a clue about what they are talking about. I can tell you the virus is real. Unfortunately, I know too many people who got ill with Covid and have passed. Maybe they had underlying issues or maybe not, I can say I got the vaccine as I do not want to contract this and pass on to my family, co-workers or you. The vaccine is a personal choice and it is probably best I not share my thoughts on mask mandates in some communities. I wish everyone would respect the thoughts and opinions everyone and businesses have on this matter.
Now to law enforcement issues. One of the biggest things was the state legislators finally got the change for juveniles to be defined as anyone under the age of 18. It used to be anyone younger than 17 was a juvenile in Missouri but the federal government always considered juveniles anyone under 18. Fortunately, we did not see many 17 year olds charged in state court here and those that were absent violent crime were treated very well in state court as no one wants to throw away the key on a non-violent youthful offender. Since the change, we did have a recent car stop where two (now) juveniles were in possession of drugs and drug distribution supplies, so this case will be reviewed by juvenile court.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act went into effect upon being signed by our Governor. Thankfully the legislators did change some of the wording in the bill to where it does not punish law enforcement officers individually. There is still a problem in my opinion, as the law itself really does not truly stop any intrusion of our firearm rights by federal authorities. For example, if a deputy makes a traffic stop and finds several people in the vehicle who are convicted felons and there are loaded firearms in the car, we now just process that through state court. However, and I know of an agency currently dealing with this situation, being an agency receives a federal court order to provide all reports and information associated with an alleged gun crime in Missouri. The officer/agency must honor the federal court order or face potential prosecution for criminal act and/or contempt of court in the federal system. The SAPA does not prevent this nor will it prevent those convicted felons from potentially still being charged in federal court but it can drastically slow down the process. Nor does SAPA stop any federal officer from serving a federal search warrant or arrest warrant in Missouri. Again, I admire and respect our legislators in their attempt to stop any unwanted erosion or violation of our 2nd Amendment rights but there are loopholes and issues the statute does create. I am willing to bet we will see this legislation strongly challenged in both state and federal court sooner than later.
We have a ton of things going on in the (Livingston County Sheriff's Office) LCSO. We are in our new office, being in the Police Department building now referred to as the Law Enforcement Center and we really enjoy this positive step forward. Prompt communication and working together is extremely important and only helps all our citizens and employees in the long run. Reminder if you want to speak with us you can still call the same numbers being dispatch at 660-646-2121, our main office M-F 8 a.m.-- 4 p.m., at 660-646-0515 or go to the front door of the Police Department (Law Enforcement Center) at 613 Walnut and someone inside will get the right people to you. Do not go to the south door of the Law Enforcement Center building as that is locked 24/7.
Deputy Nicholas Leadbetter is nearly done with training all CPD and LCSO staff on using a "Restraint Chair" which was equipment we had in our jail prior to closing in December 2012. The restraint chair is reserved for very violent and uncontrollable people who are a harm to themselves and/or others. Unfortunately, this has been used a couple of times recently and was a very useful tool that minimized any use of force requirements. I think it is fair to say the last time it was used the person had most likely ingested a variety of drugs, possibly even PCP.
I have had our staff testing a variety of body cameras and we are close to discussing purchase information with the county commissioners. We were fortunate in that a "friend of law enforcement" donated a large sum to the LCSO and we are putting all those funds toward this project. The 2021 sheriff budget requests were not able to be fully supported by the county and as with many things a good system is not cheap and a cheap system is not good. Most body/car camera companies have various features but not all function the same, several are not user friendly and some have poor reviews. As important as this issue is we want the best tool that will collect all possible information to show an accurate reflection of our citizen contacts, arrests, and many other daily activities we handle. A huge issue with body and car cameras is not just storing the data but also managing and preserving the data, which for an agency this size could become the primary responsibility of one officer.
A good bit of news is that from December 16, 2020 through July 2021 we have only used $236,352 dollars of our jail board of prisoner budget for all of 2021 which equates to only 35.5% used for the year.
Kudos to all those who organized and participated in the Livingston County Fair, Sliced Bread Parade/Event and the Chillicothe Car Show! I am confident all these take a great deal of time and patience to organize.
As always we want you to know we are here to help you, your family and your friends. We like it when everyone gets home safe. Thank you for reading this editorial and your support of local law enforcement.