Did you know that the Edgar County Sheriff Department often has just one Deputy on duty? On one recent Sunday afternoon, this resulted in a lack of coverage, and a likely DUI that got away.
That Sunday, I was traveling Northbound on Route 1 on my way home from a church potluck dinner, when I observed a vehicle in front of me driving erratically. At the very least, they were extremely distracted.
I watched them ride the right line, and then drift all the way over to the center line, remaining there for an extended period of time, even with oncoming traffic. While calling the ECSD, I observed the vehicle do it again, this time crossing the center line, into oncoming traffic.
I informed ECSD that I was an off duty police officer, and described what I saw. I gave them the vehicle description, direction of travel, and asked if there was a Deputy up North that could stop the vehicle.
The dispatcher apologized, saying there was only one Deputy on duty, and that he was tied up on a serious accident elsewhere. I said I understood, and suggested they let Vermilion Co. know the vehicle was Northbound.
Please understand, I know the Deputy was needed elsewhere. It was a very serious call. But do you really think one road Deputy is enough, on a Sunday afternoon, in the Summer, with high traffic? Or on a Wednesday night, as has happened recently? I don’t think so.
In one recent manhunt, and the Sheriff’s own words, as reported in the July 21 issue of the Prairie Press: “I and the deputy on duty were on the other side of the county.” The Prairie Press continues: “Wood estimated it took the sheriff’s department approximately an hour to reach the scene.”
This is unacceptable. You’re going to have multiple calls. It’s to be expected. The ECSD should have at least two Deputies on, to cover each end of the county, and to back each other up when needed.
We need a larger part-time roster, to ensure that Deputies aren’t working alone. We need to rebuild the Auxiliary Deputy program to get some help with traffic control, searches, and other emergencies.
I will be a working Sheriff. I’ll come in and cover calls when needed, regardless of the shift. I’ll be available 24-7 to work a shift when we’re short. I’ll also be working extra patrol frequently, to back the other deputies up, and help keep us all safer. You have my word on it.