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Sheriff wants more stop sticks to halt high-speed chases
Spike strips in March 2019.jpg
State trooper Wade Myers, right, threw down spike strips to end a high-speed police chase on Beersheba Street in March.

Warren County Sheriff’s Department is looking to deflate the soaring number of drivers who try to evade arrest. 

Sheriff Tommy Myers requested the purchase of 40 stop sticks, a device used by law enforcement to safely end high-speed chases by slowly deflating the vehicle’s tires after it is run over. At this time, the department has one. 

“If every one of our cars had them, we would stop some of these pursuits and they wouldn’t even get into town,” said Myers. “This is about public safety. I’ve asked the DA and judges to be harsher on individuals who run from our officers because it puts the public in danger. I would rather them be more lenient on someone with drugs in their pocket than someone who runs from a law enforcement officer and endangers the public.”

Stop sticks cost $455 each, a training kit is $260, and shipping is $388 for a total of $18,848.

That request was made before members of the county Corrections Partnership Committee and was among a list of items totaling $109,298 the sheriff requested.

Requested was 34 tasers, with holsters and batteries, and one extra cartridge for a total of $40,848.

“With this purchase, all our deputies would have one,” said Myers. “Some of our deputies already have them, like the deputies at the courthouse. This would be for the road deputies. We would have two extra. They do tear up.”

A previous purchase of 15 tasers was for corrections officers at the jail.

Breakdown: tasers $1,022 each, holsters $61 each, batteries $62 each, and one case of extra cartridges is $1,400.

Also requested were 41 hand-held radios and radio carriers for a total of $23,642.

“The radios we have now are very, very old,” said Myers. “The radios we have picked out are $560 apiece and that comes with a shoulder mike. They radio carriers are for the vests. Carriers protect the radios if our guys get in a scuffle.”

Breakdown: radios $560 each and protective carriers are $13 each.

Requested was 24 patrol print kits at a cost of $660.

“These will help our department in many ways,” said Myers. “We only have a handful of investigators and when they do have to come out, it’s overtime pay. Having these in our patrol cars and teaching our deputies to use them would save us some money in the long run. 

The kits are $27.50 each. 

For the jail, Myers requested a total of $25,817 to purchase the following:

• 275 mattress, $21,587

• 2 anti-suicide smocks, $220

• 10 seatbelt cutters, $160

• 30 restraints, $2,910

• 3 cases of orange sporks, $48

• 40 garbage cans, $892

The mattresses are an upgrade to what the jail currently uses.

“Our mattresses are one of the first things our inmates tear up,” said Myers. “They gut them and use the stuffing for pillows or what have you. The mattresses we have are the cheap version of jail mat-tresses. After a few months they flatten down to about an inch and it feels like sleeping on a table. They start out at three inches. Those are about $50 apiece. These are five inches thick and won’t com-press to below three inches. They last a whole lot longer and are $78.50 apiece.”

The upgrade will come with a stipulation. 

“When an inmate is booked into our jail, they are issued a blanket, all their necessities and their mat,” said Myers. “These mattresses will be assigned. If you tear it up, you pay for it. That’s the idea. I think in the long run it will save us money. Plus, if the inmates are getting a better mattress and sleeping better they may not cause as much of a problem for us.” 

Smocks and seatbelt cutters are for suicidal inmates. The smocks are tear resistant and cannot be fold-ed or rolled, while the cutters will be carried by corrections officers because they cannot carry knives. 

“We don’t allow knives in the jail, obviously,” said Myers. “If an inmate gets hold of a seatbelt cutter, they couldn’t hurt anyone with it. However, with a seatbelt cutter, it only takes a CO a matter of seconds to cut someone down who is attempting to hang themselves. Seconds matter in a situation like that.” 

Restraints are shackles, handcuffs and belly chains. 

The orange sporks will be issued to inmates. At this time, plastic utensils are flushed by inmates and can clog up the grinder, sometimes resulting in sewer backing up into the jail.

“If you open up our grinder outside it’s full of thousands of sporks,” said Myers. “My idea is to issue orange sporks to the inmates as they come in. It’s theirs to keep up with. If you flush it, you have to eat with your hand.”

Garbage cans are routinely broken by inmates, said Myers, and now 40 more need to be purchased. 

Funds for the purchases will come from excess funds within the sheriff’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget and will require a budget transfer. 

Committee members unanimously approved the budget amendment and the list of purchases. Their recommendation will be sent to the county Budget and Finance Committee for consideration.