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Better technology, more beds helping sheriff's office

Better technology, more beds helping sheriff's office

October 31st, 2018 by Liz Morales, in Local News

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley

Photo by David Wilson /News Tribune.

An increase in salary for California Police Department officers has been beneficial to CPD, but not for the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department. This increase has resulted in the loss of deputies seeking higher paying jobs.

Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley said this has been the number one concern his department has faced this year.

"Moniteau County is currently on a law enforcement grant and can only pay $30,000 per year," Wheatley said. "Most of the departments in the area have increased salaries to pay more than what we can pay and we end up losing staff. Every time we lose staff, it hurts us as a department."

The department then must attempt to hire replacement officers and get the individuals trained and ready to work the roads. This, Wheatley said, can take a couple of month and make the department get uniforms and equipment for the new hires.

"It is getting harder to find replacement staff because of the salaries we are able to pay compared to other departments," he said.

This issue proves to be the biggest challenge the force faces as of yet, but operation has been running smoothly with the staff that remains.

Recently, the Moniteau County Jail added six beds, which will allow the facility to hold 50 inmates. Plans are in the works to add another eight beds.

In addition, the jail made upgrades to its camera systems and other technology. Digital boards were added to track inmates within the facility. These upgrades will help deputies, and Wheatley, in their regular "aggressive approach to law enforcement."

"The addition of these beds will put our facility at max capacity," Wheatley said. "We will not be able to house any more, unless we add on to the building."

Relying on tips and information from the public has continued to further the efforts from the deputies in keeping the community safe.

As with any operation, keeping an open line of communication between counties has proved beneficial to Wheatley and his team.

"We also have an outstanding relationship with our bordering counties," he said. "And (we) continually talk to them about suspects coming back and forth across county lines. If they have a theft or are looking for a suspect, they call us and vice versa."

Wheatley said such suspects do not stay in one county, when committing crimes, "but continually drive back and forth to try and avoid law enforcement."

Moniteau County, as a whole, is currently benefiting from Wheatley's attacks on the drug issue the area is facing.

"Drug arrests are down slightly and I believe this is due to our aggressive campaign against dangerous drugs," Wheatley said.

The number of property crimes also have been on the decline.

A certain observation from the public Wheatley and his staff have appreciated is the number of reports of suspicious vehicles and persons. The department has been able to quickly follow up on such calls, which Wheatley said may avoid a crime before it happens.

The only reports that have increased at this time are domestic disturbances, which Wheatley said tend to arise when the area nears bad weather and the holiday seasons.