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Sheriff to revitalize firearms training for citizens

By Sherri Ellington Sheriff Brad White plans some changes to make the Lamar County sheriff’s office more prominent in the community ‘“ and make the community safer. He outlined his plans, which include collaboration with local police and fire departments and Mid Georgia Ambulance, at the Jan. 9 Lamar Emergency Preparedness Committee meeting. In the wake of rising gun purchases and concealed carry permit applications ‘“ there were 57 from Dec. 14 until the end of the year compared to 28 in November ‘“ White plans to revitalize citizen firearms classes, which will be held free as soon as a new shooting range is developed at the firefighter’s training site donated by Enercon. Cross training at the same site could cut costs too, he said. ’We really want to train our people in gun safety and laws and how to use one if they have to defend themselves,’ White said. There will also be a citizens’ police academy in which people will get tours of sheriff’s office facilities and hear talks about law enforcement. Also in the works are permanent prescription drug drop boxes where people can take their old prescriptions to be incinerated instead of flushed into the city/county water supply. So far, the program is held at CVS Pharmacy once a year. ’Prescription drugs are a huge problem for our drug guys,’ he said. ‘People sell them like they used to sell crack. I want to see that (drop-box) program going year-round with multiple locations.’ A lot of things get dropped anonymously into the drop boxes, including weapons and illegal drugs. Also anonymous is a cell phone program called Text-A-Tip. This secure application allows the tipster and the investigator to have two-way dialog while keeping the tipster’s identity completely anonymous. On Jan. 22 new booking software will be installed, ‘So we can be more transparent,’ he said. ‘There will be online access on our inmates and civil paper service.’ Plans also call for a program that will allow mapping of crimes in neighborhoods. People can keep informed about crimes being investigated. ’You may not know something that’s going on but there could be something suspicious you may have seen, connect it to the crime and report it,’ he said. Other programs he hopes to revisit are the STOP Sign program for teens that allows the sheriff’s department to inform parents when their teen has been pulled over for a traffic violation, is out after curfew or is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. ’We tried it a few years ago and it never took off,’ he said. ‘We’re going to try again.’ Prisoner work details will continue, though White said jail populations are down statewide, leaving fewer inmates able to work. ’Inmate work details are nothing new,’ said sheriff White. ‘All the members are low threat levels. I’m not going to let a murderer pick up trash.’ White also asked for support for the Georgia Sheriff’s Association youth group homes for abused and abandoned children. ’They go to school, live with a family and they’re getting out of high school by graduating,’ he said. ‘Doctors and lawyers have come out of this program.’ The committee also: ’¢ Welcomed new member Janice Schultz of Enercon. Fire chief Steve Andrews is in charge of improving business involvement. ’¢ Heard the committees have been reorganized and streamlined. ’¢ Set the 2013 meeting dates for March 13, May 8, July 10, Sept. 11 and Nov. 13. ’¢ Heard no planning for the annual hazardous materials drill will take place until the grant money arrives.

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