The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office
I’ve come to realize after talking to several civic organizations and citizens around the county that most people believe that Sheriff’s deputies are just out there enforcing traffic. The only interaction that most people have with law enforcement is on traffic stops, so they assume that is our only or primary duty. My hope with this article is to better explain some of the duties and responsibilities of the Sheriff’s Office day to day operation.
Our issue here in Dallas County is twofold. We do have an overcrowding issue in the jail that is only going to get worse, and on the administration and patrol side we have more than doubled our staff since the facility was redesigned and built in the late 1980s. We had to move one of our most critical divisions out of our facility in 2008 to make room for personnel.
The Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is basically made up of four divisions within the Office, with the Sheriff overseeing everything.
- Administration: The admin division consists of our front office, a civil department and an executive assistant. The front office staff is currently made up of two full-time civilian employees that take care of all data entry for incident reports, all weapons permits, maintain the Sex Offender Registry, employee payroll and several other duties assigned by the Sheriff.
Note: The Sheriff’s Office currently tracks 55 sex offenders, 53 male and two female. Since 2011 the Sheriff’s Office has issued 5,766 permits to carry firearms and 1,804 permits to purchase firearms.
The civil department consists of two full-time civilian employees and one full-time deputy. Duties include processing civil papers such as condemnation hearings, general executions, levies, no-contact orders, notice of forfeiture, notice of garnishment, notice of hearing, notice of past-due rent, notice of Sheriff sales, notice to foreclosure, notice to quit, orders for judgement, order to establish paternity, order to show cause, orders to transport, original notices, protection orders, special executions, subpoenas and a number of other orders or civil papers from the court system. Note: In 2011 the Sheriff’s Office served 1,523 civil papers, and in 2014 the Sheriff’s Office served 2,895 civil papers.
- Communications: The communications division consists of 12 full-time employees and two part-time employees staffed 24hours a day, 365 days a year. Our communication center serves as the primary dispatch center for deputies, six police departments and 14 fire departments. We also provide dispatch service for emergency medical services, Dallas County Conservation officers, Emergency management, court security deputies, mobile crisis and others. We also relay calls for service in our area for secondary roads, the state road department and the Department of Natural Resources.
Our primary responsibilities are the dispatching and monitoring of 15 radio frequencies for police, medical and fire personnel. We answer calls for service on both wireless and land line 911 phone lines that come into our dispatch center. We receive alerts from the National Weather Service and activate storm sirens for the communities we service during severe weather. We also monitor all of the security cameras for multiple county offices as well as the courthouse. We are the holder of records for warrants, protections orders, missing persons, stolen articles, vehicles and guns after each are entered.
Every communications officer is certified in emergency medical dispatch and can provide pre-arrival medical instructions to include CPR and child birth over the phone.
We also serve as a backup location for the Perry Police dispatch and for Westcom communications. When surrounding counties phone lines are inoperable, they can transfer their lines to include 911 lines to our center during the service interruption.
NOTE: From January 1 thru June 30, 2015
The following numbers are not all inclusive. Our current CAD system does not have the capabilities to do a report of Sheriff’s Office case numbers by city. These numbers are only from Fire/EMS cases and all calls inside the city limits of each city. Rural calls are not included below.
|Dallas Center||409||Granger||236||Van Meter||329|
- In 2011 dispatch serviced 20,112 calls for service, and in 2014 they serviced 27,376 calls for service.
- In 2011 dispatch processed 77,826 telephone calls, and in 2014 they processed 86,925 telephone calls.
- In 2008 the dispatch division was moved into another building due to the lack of office space in our current facility.
- Jail: The jail division is comprised of a Chief Deputy, 15 full-time employees and eight part-time employees, three of which are designated transport officers. The jail portion of the current facility was constructed on or about November 1988 by architect Wehner/Pattschull/Pfiffner, P.C. ( project #88219) from Iowa City and operated out of a home office at Grabau Construction Inc. from Boone Iowa. Many additional contractors were used as well.
The jail portion was built with 24 actual beds in the facility, with the ability to house 31 inmates. The Sheriff’s Office at the time had approximately 30 employees who all worked within the walls of the new public safety building. Nine of these employees worked in the jail. We currently have 63 full- and part-time employees and an 11-person reserve deputy program.
Jail Overcrowding: In 2001 the Sheriff addressed the overcrowding issue by a letter to the Dallas County Board of Supervisors. In response to the letter, the supervisors formed a Criminal Justice Committee to address the overcrowding issues. The committee published a final jail overcrowding report in August 2001 and presented their suggestions to the supervisors Sept. 8, 2001. The committee suggested several options, and the Sheriff enacted many of those suggestions. One such option was a capital improvement project to add additional bunk beds to the current cells. This improvement was suggested for individuals with special needs, such as juveniles, females, mentally ill, dangerous/combative and other needs to be isolated by the general population. Shortly after the report, the jail capacity increased from 24 actual beds to 36 actual beds.
In 2013 variance paperwork for the 12 bunk beds put in by the Sheriff in 2001 could not be located by either Dallas County or the State Department of Corrections, so we applied for a variance to adhere to the state code. The variance was approved for five years, with an expiration date on March 22, 2018. The variance was mandated due to the cells only being large enough for one inmate and not for double occupancy as set out in Chapter 50 of the Iowa Administrative Code.
In 2005 Carter Goble Lee noted on a 10-year Master Space and Facilities Plan that a jail inspection conducted by the State on May 25, 2005, noted the facility’s physical plant limitations in regard to inmate separation and housing capacity as stated in Section 356.36 of the Iowa Code. At that time the jail was in violation of having eight inmates in one cell block which only should have housed five inmates.
The additional bunks added for the special needs today are occupied by general population inmates. The problem of accommodating space for special-needs inmates has again become an issue. A pending variance has been applied with the Department of Corrections for the additional bunks that were added in 2001 due to a violation of the bunks being placed in cells having the square footage only to accommodate one inmate and not double occupancy.
As indicated by the state jail inspector in May 2010, the inspector indicates that “staff is doing an exceptional job with a facility that does not meet current needs.”
In May 2011 the jail inspector indicated upon his report that “Dallas County Jail is an older facility that does not meet the current needs of the county.”
In May 2012 the jail inspector indicated on his report that “Staff is doing an exceptional job with a facility that does not meet current needs.”
In May of 2013 the jail inspector indicated on his report that “Dallas County Jail is an older facility that does not meet the current needs of the prisoners, staff or the public. Due to the age of the facility, several maintenance issues exist. They include, but are not limited to, the showers and sinks. These areas are extremely difficult to maintain cleanliness due to plumbing issues, rust and hard water deposits. Other areas that are showing signs of rust is the tables, desks and benches. Storage is a premium in general, but especially in the area of prisoner storage. It appears that the daily population is close to or exceeds the rated capacity even with the variance.”
In May 2014 the state jail inspector indicated on his report that “Due to the age of the facility, several maintenance issues exist. They include, but are not limited to, cell doors with sprung hinges that did not allow proper closing if at all, bunks have been placed out of service, a lock on a door was not operational, stains on the ceiling that appears to be from a leak in the roof, cracks were observed on the wall/ceiling and in area that has patch due to crumbling concrete ceiling. These issues need to have immediate attention to ensure prisoner, staff and public safety and to ensure a healthy and sanitary living and working condition. Staff puts forth extra effort to keep these issues clean and sanitary. This is difficult if not nearly impossible to complete due to the age and condition of the jail facility.”
Note: The average daily population in 2015 January: 41, February: 47, March: 41, April: 32, and May: 43.
4. Patrol: The Patrol Division of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of 13 deputies to include a patrol Sergeant. The Patrol Division works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and patrols all 592 square miles of Dallas County. The Patrol Division is responsible for making arrests, answering calls for service, enforcing traffic laws, transports, serving civil papers and all other law enforcement related duties.
Currently, the Patrol Division has a K-9 handler and two certified DREs (Drug Recognition Experts). The Patrol Division of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office patrols in all 18 cities within Dallas County and provides backup to those cities that need assistance. The Sheriff’s Office also patrols the unincorporated areas and provides contract services in two towns that specifically contract with the Sheriff’s Office. The Patrol Division typically responds to over 10,000 calls for service each year, and that number has continued to rise over the past several years. Deputies also take on additional duties and responsibilities, such as accident investigator, firearms instructors, Taser instructors, defensive driving instructors, evidence room technicians, grant managers for alcohol and tobacco grants and coordinators for our reserve department and governors traffic safety bureau. They participate in a wide variety of law enforcement duties that make themselves better trained officers on the street.
- In 2011 the Deputies responded to 7,822 calls for service, and in 2014 they responded to 10,205 calls for
- In 2011 Dallas County Sheriff’s Office was responsible for 180 court ordered transports, and in 2014 we did 633.
- In 2011 the Deputies served 230 arrest warrants, and in 2014 we served 594.
I hope this information helps those that might have questions about the upcoming bond issue on Aug. 4. I encourage our citizens to please call me directly if you further questions.
Sheriff Chad Leonard
ThePerryNews.com video by Mark Summerson