Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter and Chief Deputy Tom Beardslee met with county commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday. Several changes were discussed ranging from policies and procedures to a new look for the department.
"We're going to change over to different uniforms," Walter said. "We're not going to have green anymore."
Beardslee said the new uniforms will be black pants with a gray stripe, a gray shirt and a black tie. "We hope to have everyone in uniform by March 1," he said. The new badges will be round with a five-point star inside, similar to the Texas Ranger badge, he said.
Car markings are also being changed. The new markings will include "Sheriff" in reflective blue letters and gray stripes along the side and a red stripe.
The jail will need about 300 new shirts to put together "non-Bill Ferrell uniforms for the inmates," Walter said. Vehicle license plates also bear the name of the former sheriff.
The department now has 37 employees on staff, according to Walter. All previous employees stayed with the department except for two senior administrators and one deputy who accepted a position in Mississippi County.
Walter has "restructured" the department under a new ranking system. There were no demotions but the department no longer has captains, only sergeants and lieutenants.
Lt. Jim Bonner was named jail administrator and Sgt. Paul Dirden was appointed the jail supervisor. Lt. Jerry Bledsoe is in charge of investigations and Walter is looking at reinitiating the D.A.R.E. program with Sgt. Patricia Garner. Steve Shoemaker will be the sergeant in charge of civil process and Donna Ballard, a non-commissioned employee, will be the communication supervisor.
Future promotions for positions like patrol sergeants will be "merit promotions," Beardslee said.
Deputies now work 12-hour shifts, according to the sheriff. There are now road deputies on patrol 24 hours per day, seven days per week "for the first time ever," said Beardslee.
"And we did that without hiring additional help," Walter said, although he added he would like to hire some additional staff. "I'd like to have more people doing investigations."
The Scott County Jail has begun boarding prisoners from the City of Sikeston for $25 per day. "They're tickled," said Beardslee, noting Sikeston prisoners had been going to Mississippi County to be boarded for $30 per day. Also, "we're going to allow them to bring them whenever they have them," he added, as Sikeston only has a holding facility.
Officials also discussed moving the county's E-911 dispatching and the department's dispatching to the jail's second floor.
The jail's current dispatching room doesn't have room for the E-911 consoles, according to Walter. E-911 dispatching is presently located in Morley "in a building that could burn any minute," Beardslee said. "It's actually coming down around them."
Joe Burton, Scott County E-911 administrator, has money in a fund to pay for the move and any necessary construction, Beardslee said. "And also Scott City is talking about bringing theirs down, too," he added.
One office at the jail will be used to set up a Highway Patrol zone office. "They're excited about coming up here and working with us," Walter said. "And we could use their help."
"They need to have a presence in this county," Beardslee said of the Patrol.
The county's new chief law enforcement officials also advised commissioners they would like to set up a policy of recouping money from prisoners in the jail for damage to things like mats, sheets, sprinkler heads and other targets of vandalism.
"Anything they do, we're going to charge them," Walter said. "Charge them criminally and charge them money."
Other changes and issues discussed during Tuesday's meeting included implementing a preventative maintenance program; a new system for fuel purchases that keeps better records for mileage, fuel amounts and cost; new procedures for servicing patrol cars that should be quicker and more convenient for road deputies; and vending options and prisoner pay phones as ways to generate revenue at the jail.
In other Scott County news:
* University Extension Council board members and staff presented their annual report on services they offer and have furnished in the county along with a request for increased funding.
Board members said they have worked hard to keep costs down and to work with what they've got, but their rent has increased and "there's nothing any of us can do to offset that."
* Commissioners reappointed Judy Marshall, Jeff Partridge and Donna Tippy to the Senate Bill 40 Board for three-year terms. SB-40 funds go to the sheltered workshop.