Sheriff hopefuls plan for drug officers, training
Free jiu-jitsu training one offering to deputies
As election day nears, the candidates for Barry County sheriff are developing some of their plans for deputies when it comes to narcotics enforcement and training for hand-to-hand altercations.
Barry County Deputy Justin "Dave" Ruark has previously said he has a Police Officer Standards and Training (POST)-certified individual willing to take on a full-time narcotics officer position, as well as a second individual looking to implement a K-9 unit. Ruark said he has continued work on the narcotics enforcement endeavor and has brought another POST-certified officer into his plan.
"I have spoken with another officer that is a reserve with the sheriff's office who will do narcotics investigations remaining as a reserve," Ruark said. "This means that position will not cost any more taxpayer dollars."
Davis said he had a few concerns about Ruark's plans -- cost, liability and control. He said according to his research, a K-9 unit would cost upwards of $5,000 to implement when including cost of training for the dog and deputy, certifications, dog supplies, food, veterinary care, housing and vehicle caging. And, some of those costs, like dog supplies, food and veterinary care, become annual expenses.
"A dog itself will also cost about $4,000 to $5,000," he said. "And, the officer has to have 16 hours per month of K-9 training, and be paid for 30 minutes per day of animal care, including on days off. Where will we get the money?"
Money was the overall concern to narcotics officers as well.
"I'm not against a full-time narcotics officer, but we have no current openings, so how do we pay for it?" he said. "With a reserve, I'd have two concerns -- liability and control. What schedule will he work? What if he gets hurt? I'm all for things that are free, but you have to consider all these circumstances, and in my 30 years of experience, I have learned there is no such thing as a free lunch."
When it comes to finding more, and cost-effective, forms of training, Ruark said if elected he will encourage deputies to continue taking advantage of a free offering from a local business.
"There is a gym in Cassville that teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu," he said. "Some deputies are already taking these classes, and they are offered to the department free of charge. I want to get more involved in that and maybe even take the classes myself."
The gym, on the north side of town, is owned by JD Hunter and offers an instructor with a black belt in jiu-jitsu. A popular fighting discipline of professional MMA fighters, Brazilian jiu-jitsu focuses largely on grappling and ground-fighting techniques.
Ruark also wanted to address another concern he had heard from community members.
"People have been concerned deputies are taking these classes to compete in cage matches, but we are only doing them because it is available [hand-to-hand] training that is at no expense to the department," he said.
Davis said he is fine with deputies taking such classes at their own leisure, but if on the clock he would look more into the specifics of the classes.
"Anything that is free that makes you better at what you do, I'm all for," he said. "Hopefully, they are doing it on their own time, and if it's on county time, I would want to learn more about who it's with and what the benefits are. Those types of things I'm all for, but you have to be careful who you do it with to make sure there's no strings attached and it can't come back to bite you. If there aren't any, it's probably a good deal."
Ruark and Davis will square off in the Nov. 8 General Election.