Sheriff’s Message, Week of July 30th
People driving too fast, not stopping at posted stop signs, and recklessly driving are some of our biggest citizen complaints. When they don’t see immediate action, they believe were are lazy. Conversely, drivers who are caught in complaint areas become angry and make allegations about quota systems. The good news is that our deputies do not have daily quotas and are allowed to write as many traffic tickets as they want.
Many citizens wrongly believe they only have to provide a license plate number and vehicle description for the Sheriff’s Office to take criminal action. The criminal justice system does not work that way. The vehicle driver must be positively identified by the citizen, which usually mean the driver’s name and not a general description. The alleged criminal offense must stand judicial scrutiny. Without a calibrated radar used by a certified person, generalized vehicle speed estimates are useless in court. This is the process of law that must be followed. Sadly, uninformed citizens then direct their frustration at us because nothing is being done to solve their problem.
Traffic enforcement is something we do, but it is an extremely low priority. Traffic enforcement is not a statutorily mandated function of the Sheriff’s Office. Running a jail, investigating felony crimes, keeping the peace, and stopping affrays are state law mandates. Affrays are the domestic batteries and fight calls. Traffic violations are misdemeanor and not felony level crimes.
Many Sheriff Offices have dedicated traffic enforcement units because communities demand it. We do not have this type of specialized unit due to funding. With over 500 miles of county roads, we do the best we can to support community requests. Each month, we make approximately 650 traffic stops, or about 8,000 a year. Last year, 1,591 traffic tickets were written by our deputies. We understand traffic volume increases on our already over stressed road networks will continue as the USA Parkway opens and grows Lyon County population. We are going to need additional deputies to meet future demand.
Community engagement helped us quickly locate the kidnapping fugitive that stemmed from a domestic relationship in Fernley this week. The LCSO thanks you for helping to get this dangerous person into custody. Our Fernley Boys & Girls Club staff took appropriate action this week when it reported a person with a gun was near the club. Our deputies quickly responded, and fortunately no one was located.
We said good-bye to Zack Hickman after 8 year of county service as he took a job with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. We support his decision, which was well thought through for family reasons. And finally, the LCSO paid tribute to one of our long tenured volunteers, Chaplain Jeff Pauly who served as our Jail Chaplain for 22 years. Jeff touched the broken lives of more than 20,000 Lyon County prisoners. As Jeff had stood over our broken bodies so many times, Honor Guard member Deputy Huichapa stood over Jeff’s during the celebration of life ceremony. Posthumously, Jeff was awarded the Sheriff’s Office Community Service Medal.
As always, keep the faith.