August 2005


in this issue
  • Sheriff Judd Filing Claim To Recover Taxpayers' Money
  • Operation Bright Eyes To Aid in Fight Against Crime
  • DDT Participates in Mock Riot Training
  • A Note From Sheriff Judd

    Operation Bright Eyes To Aid in Fight Against Crime
    Sheriff Grady Judd recently announced a new program partnering with Bright House Cable Networks which will carry Neighborhood Watch concepts beyond the traditional role. PCSO Crime Prevention members will train Bright House field employees to identify and report suspicious activity in communities where they are assigned. This training includes the basic concepts taught in traditional Neighborhood Watch programs.

    Sheriff Judd advised that, "When citizens come forward, get involved, and put their knowledge to work to help law enforcement prevent crime in their community, everyone wins - except the criminals!" So far hundreds of Bright House employees in Polk and surrounding counties have been trained and are out in the community every day, lending an additional pair of eyes to law enforcement efforts.


    DDT Participates in Mock Riot Training

    In an effort to ensure the utmost safety and security in the PCSO jail facilities, the PCSO Detention Disturbance Team (DDT) - an elite team trained to handle any possible disturbances in the jail facilities - recently traveled to a former state penitentiary to participate in an annual Mock Prison Riot training exercise, sponsored by the National Corrections and Law Enforcement Training and Technology Center.

    The real-life setting of the mock riot training, complete with cell blocks, recreation yards, and "inmates" played by volunteer local students and corrections officers, gives emergency response teams nationwide a chance to practice their responses to potentially deadly riot scenes using their tactical skills and weapons.

    The PCSO DDT team includes 26 male and female members of the PCSO Department of Detention. The specialized team trains to handle any disturbances within the PCSO jail facilities and provide the utmost security and safety for PCSO detention deputies and inmates. Along with physical training, the team trains in the use of less than lethal weaponry appropriate for jail facilities.


    A Note From Sheriff Judd

    My highest priority is to keep the people of Polk County safe. In order to continue meeting that priority, I have developed a realistic and conservative budget plan for the upcoming FY 05-06 fiscal year that will address our biggest challenge: the dramatic growth in county population.

    Despite continued population growth, the good news is that the crime rate is down to record lows not seen since the early 70s. This impressive drop in crime (achieved despite budget constraints and dramatic population growth) is due to our proactive approach to finding solutions to our challenges. We have done more with less: we have not added any county-funded deputy sheriff positions in 5 years. Additionally, through a top-down reorganization of the agency, I eliminated a number of administrative supervisor positions to put 8 additional deputies on the street.

    But the lack of new deputy positions for 5 years has taken a toll despite our good efforts: we have fallen well below the state average (1.76 deputies per thousand residents) to a low of only 1.61 deputies per thousand residents. This is a safety risk, and measures need to be taken to begin re-building our patrol force to handle the projected population growth of our county. In response, the FY 05-06 budget includes a fiscally responsible plan for adding 16 new deputy sheriff positions for the next five years to bring us back into the range of the state average. We will be leveraging $400,00 of Federal matching grant funds for these 16 new deputy sheriff positions, which will save $1.2 million over three years.

    The 05-06 budget of $113,743,224 includes a total of 31 new positions to help deal with county growth. The budget also includes a cost of living raise for our members and adequate funding for performance- based pay plan. There are a number of areas where we have cut funding or had no increases. Unfortunately, there is a significant increase for inmate health care that is beyond our control because of the increased inmate population and the medical inflation rate. Other needs addressed in the budget include technology purchases to ensure we remain on the forefront of crime-fighting technology, unavoidable increased operating expenses and court- ordered expansion of the judicial system.

    Please partner with us in support of our budget and the need to properly fund additional deputies to patrol county streets and successfully meet the challenges of future growth.


    Sheriff Judd Filing Claim To Recover Taxpayers' Money
    In an effort to recover taxpayers’ money spent to replace defective safety vests, the Polk Sheriff's Office is filing a claim in a class action lawsuit settlement agreement reached in mid-July.

    The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of replacing a total of 283 defective vests at a cost of $143,766. The replacement vests were ordered immediately following a safety warning issued June 22, 2005, by Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., advising law enforcement agencies of urgent safety concerns about “Zylon” fibers used in the construction of their Tri-Flex safety vests.

    Toyobo Co. announced in July that it had reached a nationwide settlement with purchasers of bullet resistant vests that contain Zylon fiber manufactured by Toyobo. Under the agreement Toyobo will pay $29 million dollars into a settlement fund so that law enforcement officers and other purchasers can buy replacement vests.

    “Upon hearing of this settlement, we took immediate action and are filing a claim to recover the full amount we lost in the replacement of our defective Tri-Flex vests,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.

    The Sheriff's Office sent a message to all members shortly after receiving the notice to inform them of the safety vest warning and the steps that were being taken to replace the vests. Deputies were told to continue wearing their current vests until they receive a replacement. The Sheriff's Office pushed for a rapid delivery, and received an anticipated time- frame for delivery of 3 to 4 weeks.

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