This month in “What’s New in County 22” I would like to explain some recent events that have hit close to home and affected all of us as of late. Some of you may have watched the riots or peaceful marches in the town of Ferguson, MO the last few weeks when a white police officer shot and killed a black unarmed robbery suspect. The citizens became furious, violence erupted and local peace officers used military equipment to sustain order to the best of their abilities.
The equipment was given to the local peace officers from a military surplus program called the 10-33 program. The program allows local police forces to acquire military hardware to use for police purposes and was passed in the context of a perceived drug crisis around 1990. This was intended to combat illegal drug activities using material not needed by the Department of Defense. After reports from the media on the military equipment being used, the 10-33 program was put on hold nationwide.
Most law enforcement agencies do take part in that program at some time including our sheriff’s office. At the time the Ferguson, MO event was going on, we had contacted the 10-33 program and had a walk through metal detector being held for us to pick up and use free of charge. This metal detector is valued at $15,000 and our intention was to implement it at our courthouse. Courthouse security is defined in the Iowa law and described as a duty of the sheriff, and one that I take seriously.
Since I’ve taken office I have implemented courthouse and county office security through part-time manpower and cameras. This leads me to another recent event during that time span. The Jackson County Courthouse shooting at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting in Maquoketa, Iowa. I’m sure most of you have based an opinion on what you heard on the situation from the news media on the 10-33 program out of Ferguson, MO but in my opinion it would have been nice to implement a $15,000 dollar piece of equipment, free of charge to tax payers, to improve security at our local courthouse. Now since that time the program has been put back into effect but we have to start over the application process for the metal detector in hopes of acquiring one.
Another reminder for everyone is that it is that time of year again when I would like to encourage people to slow down and watch out for farmers who will be on the roadways harvesting their crops. They are out working their jobs trying to make a living like all of us. There will also be slower vehicles for what appears to be a beautiful leaf season on the way. Please remain calm to slower drivers and use caution when passing farm equipment on roadways.
If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to contact me anytime, e-mail me, or stop by to see me.
Thanks and be safe, Sheriff Mike Tschirgi