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Hobbs Police Add Bomb-Sniffing Dog to K-9 Unit

The Hobbs Police Department has added an additional dog to their K-9 Unit. Currently, the department has four K-9 dogs on their roster, but they are primarily used to sniff out drugs.  Their newest dog is used to sniff out bombs.

Agar is a 2 1/2 year old Labrador who was born in Poland.  He, along with Officer Jerry Boyer, received specialized training in Indiana. Agar only understands commands in the Dutch language. “Everyday, we were out there training just like this, or training inside buildings or vehicles, large warehouses, even open fields, we had bombs we had to find,” Boyer said.

Agar sniffs out bombs and ammunition.



Sheriff’s defense of procession resonates

It was supposed to be an internal memo.

Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer wrote an e-mail Aug. 29 responding to a motorist who had complained about traffic control for a procession escorting the casket of Sgt. William Woods, a soldier who was killed in Afghanistan, to a mortuary in Cedar Hill.sheriffoliverglennboyer_jeffersoncounty

“I would like to say that I am sorry for the inconvenience we caused you during the funeral procession of Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods, but I cannot do so,” Boyer’s response started. “I would ask instead that you take a moment of your time to take into consideration the scope of the event. Your very right to complain was the reason Sgt. Woods fought for his country and ultimately gave his life; thus making the ultimate sacrifice for you and your family.”

Boyer went on to defend the traffic procedures used by the law enforcement escorts that included Jefferson County deputies. He then sent the exchange to county employees.

“We have officers who volunteer to do these escorts, and it’s important to me to let them know as a veteran and a sheriff how I feel about a fallen soldier,” Boyer said Thursday, after his response spread far beyond the confines of county employees’ in-boxes.

The sheriff’s e-mail has been posted on various law enforcement and military sites, and Boyer, a Vietnam veteran, said he has received more than 200 complimentary e-mails from people across the country. And he’s not happy about it.

“It’s not about me and what I wrote in that letter. The whole point of this exercise is to show there’s people who are willing to sacrifice their lives so we can complain about such mundane things,” said Boyer, who has not released the motorist’s name.

In her e-mail, the woman complained about what she saw as unnecessary lane closures and the timing of the convoy as it traveled on Interstate 270 and Gravois Road in St. Louis County on Aug. 27. “This procession should never have been held during rush hour traffic!” she wrote.

She also alleged that members of the Patriot Guard — a group of motorcycle riders who escort funeral processions for fallen soldiers — harassed her.

“They are not law enforcement and had no right to stop in the lane on Gravois, and they had no right to scream at me and intimidate and threaten me,” she wrote.

Boyer said he interviewed officers who were on duty that day as well as members of the Patriot Guard. Ultimately, he found the complaints to be without merit.

He nevertheless forwarded them to the Jefferson County prosecutor and sent the motorist his now well-circulated response.

Boyer said the woman responded to his response, but her concerns did not seem to be assuaged by his words. “What is upsetting about that is, she’s going to forget about this in a week,” Boyer said.

His own thoughts are with the soldier’s widow, he said. “This lady is never going to celebrate another anniversary with her husband. Her children are never going to open Christmas presents with their dad, celebrate birthdays with their dad. … And that’s what this (irritated motorist) does not understand.”



Sheriff Raises Funds by Opening Jail as One-Night B&B

Hmmm, when I think “getting away from it all,” I’ve never thought, “hey! let’s go to jail!”

A new “Bed and Breakfast” in Missouri is becoming the talk of the town.
The jail-turned-hotel has people from around the country heading for the St. Louis area for what one sheriff is calling a “Jail and Breakfast”.

“Show up and be prepared to be booked into the facility just like any inmate,” invites Glenn Boyer, Jefferson County Sheriff. “You’ll be issued a jail uniform when you come in.”

You’ll sleep in jail beds and eat jail food.

“We’re going to feed them an evening meal, which will be the same meal we feed our inmates. They’ll feed a breakfast meal which will be the same meal we feed our inmates,” Boyer says.

It’s Jefferson County’s “Jail and Breakfast”, Friday July 31st; for $50 you can spend the night in the new 156 bed minimum security jail; an “open bay” type jail, as opposed individual cells. You’ll be bunking where the sheriff’s desk used to be.
“Used to be right over there in that corner. It really looks different. You’ve interviewed me in that office before,” Boyer says.

He says with about 200 inmates and only 120 beds right now, it’ll cost Jefferson County about $50,000 to put its prisoners in other jails.

The sheriff says travelers from New Jersey and Florida have already made reservations; be warned, this is no 5 star resort.
Melinda Bowen is paying hundreds of dollars to bail out for failure to appear in court. She knows staying here can leave one with a “caged-in” feeling. “It’s jail. I would never pay to stay here, you know.”

“If you want to come in and you decide, hey this is not for me, for an additional $10 we’ll allow you to bail out early,” Boyer says. “When the door closes in a jail it always closes for good. And, Andy we always keep a light on for you, buddy.”


Chaplain deputy is tending Berks sheriff’s flock

If they’re down and troubled, or they just need a helping hand, deputies in the Berks County sheriff’s office can call on Deputy Brian S. Boyer to help them keep it together.

On Jan. 1, Sheriff Eric J. Weaknecht appointed Boyer chaplain of the sheriff’s office, the first chaplain in the department’s history.

Boyer, originally of Stowe, Montgomery County, and now living in Reading, joined the sheriff’s office in 2007. He was a patrolman for the West Pottsgrove Township police department for 15 years before receiving a higher calling.

Boyer, 51, attended Ashland Christian Seminary in Ashland, Ohio, for four years, earning master’s degrees in divinity and counseling.

He served as pastor of Skippack Mennonite Church in Montgomery County from 1996 until March 2006, when he left to pursue a career in counseling.

“I worked for a private firm counseling juveniles for about a year and I ran into one of the Berks deputies who told me I should apply up here,” Boyer said.

Weaknecht said he saw an opportunity in Boyer to use both his law enforcement and liturgical skills to improve the department.

“The role of the chaplain is to make pastoral services available to deputies, their families and citizens of this community whenever they are requested,” Weaknecht said. “There are other sheriff’s departments throughout the country who have chaplain programs and a lot of them work with local clergy.

“We were fortunate enough to have a highly qualified deputy here already to perform the chaplain’s services for us and be a sworn deputy.”

Boyer, who is also a member of the department’s honor guard, has spoken at the funeral of one deputy’s mother and has attended other funeral and memorial services on behalf of the department.

The sheriff said that since Boyer is a former police officer, he is keenly away of the stresses and strains of work in law enforcement.

Weaknecht said plans are to move the sheriff’s warrants division to the 17th floor of the old courthouse that had been the former offices of the county communications center.

“He (Boyer) will have an office up there where he can provide counseling services,” Weaknecht said.

No doubt once he has his own office his colleagues will be knocking on his door.


Where police rookies get their feet wet

To everything, there is a season — a time to be born, a time to die, a time to drink beer, a time to pass out on the beach, a time to drink more beer, a time to urinate on somebody’s lawn, a time to pass out in the wrong condo.

That season has arrived in Sea Isle City, a small coastal community about 140 miles from New York and 75 miles from Philadelphia whose population starting this weekend swells to 40,000 from about 2,600 and stays ballooned through Labor Day.

The newcomers include an influx of party animals that is out of proportion with society at large but an annual fact of life here. With its big bars, little bars, bars-within-bars and what seems to be a municipal commitment to pizzerias, this town is built to party.

The Sea Isle City Police Department is not built for parties, at least not in the winter months, when two to four officers are enough to patrol at a given hour of day or night. So, during the summer, the city hires 20 or so criminal justice undergraduates aspiring to be police officers and, in effect, deputizes them to keep the peace.

Lieutenant Felsing, 62, a former Marine and Philadelphia correction officer, joined the Sea Isle City police 27 years ago. This is his last summer on the job; he plans to retire in September.

Lieutenant Felsing, 62, a former Marine and Philadelphia correction officer, joined the Sea Isle City police 27 years ago. This is his last summer on the job; he plans to retire in September.

The young officers, who carry handguns, must complete an abbreviated stint at the Cape May County Police Academy. But in addition, every year, the small department holds its own orientation course. A group of eight of those young officers in training sat this month in department headquarters, their uniforms pressed and stiff, their cheeks a rosy pink that had nothing to do with the sun. A returning 24-year-old is considered a hardened veteran in the group. Before them, Lt. Dennis R. Felsing, 62, and Sgt. Bud Boyer, 56, were giving a refresher course on handcuffing.

“These cuffs haven’t been used since last year,” Sergeant Boyer said. “Go see John in the garage and ask him to squirt a little WD-40 in there.” An officer practiced handcuffing the sergeant, but got only one cuff locked while the other swung free. The sergeant, a tall former bouncer and millwright, warned him to get it right: “I’m going to beat you to death with your own handcuff.”

Next, frisking practice. The lone woman in the group of summer officers, Laura Winkel, 21, who hopes to become a detective someday, approached Sergeant Boyer.

“Interlace your fingers,” Officer Winkel instructed, and, after a couple of tries and some gentle scolding from Lieutenant Felsing, she had him locked up. Then she began a frisk that was apparently not thorough enough.

“What’s the matter with his groin?” Lieutenant Felsing asked.

“It’s the sarge,” Officer Winkel replied.

“I don’t care who he is. Search him. He’s a suspect.”

In the winter, crime is rare, but come summer, officers are answering calls day and all night, said Lieutenant Felsing, who believes that the population estimate of 40,000 is short by about 10,000.

“We get the people from New York, we get the people from Philadelphia,” said Lieutenant Felsing, one of 21 full-time officers on the Sea Isle City force. “They do everything they do at home, but they’re here.”

Mayor Leonard C. Desiderio, who also owns a hotel, bar and liquor store, said things have improved since the passage of tougher noise penalties addressed at what the police call “Animal Houses,” and shrugged off the annual misbehaving as the cost of doing a brisk summer business on the beach.

Last year, in the five months beginning May 1, there were 15 reports of assault above and beyond the 89 calls for fights, 31 calls labeled “domestic problem” and two reported sex crimes. Over the seven months that followed the end of the summer season, the total number of those same four types of calls was 21.

The brunt of the officers’ summer work is writing hundreds of tickets, largely for open-container violations and public urination.

“The drunks, because a lot of these places look alike, they go in the wrong house,” Lieutenant Felsing said. “And they pass out. We get calls: ‘There’s a drunk person on my lawn!’ ”

The young officers said that while the pay is low — $10 an hour the first summer, with a 25-cent raise every summer they return — the job looks great on a law enforcement resume.

The first thing the young officers learn, they said, is how to project a police presence when you’re 19 or 20 years old in a room full of people the same age or older.

“You have to have that tone in your voice that you can take care of them,” said Dennis Ehret, 21, who was returning for his third summer at the beach, hoping someday to become a state trooper.

The officers drove to a dead-end street near the police station to practice car stops. Sergeant Boyer, playing the role of a suspect, climbed behind the wheel of an unmarked car and placed his gun on the cup holder, in plain view. Then he ran a stop sign, and two summer officers pulled him over.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” asked one of the officers, Michael Mol, 24, who will join the department full time after five summers in uniform, questioning him at length before finally spotting the pistol and shouting: “Gun! Put your hands up! Put your hands up!” The drill ended with Sergeant Boyer’s uneventful arrest. (“It took Mike a while to find that gun,” he said later. “I’ve got to talk to Mike about that.”)

In the final drill, the suspects leaped from their car after being pulled over and opened fire on the officers, one of whom said sullenly, “We’re dead.”

If the police bosses seemed at times to be stern with the young officers, it may be because they remember their own rookie mistakes. On Labor Day 25 years ago, Lieutenant Felsing, then an officer fairly new to policing, and Michael A. Jargowsky, now 47 and a captain, tried to stop a huge bonfire outside a house on the beach. They arrested one man and handcuffed him.

“It escalated,” Captain Jargowsky recalled. “The guy we had cuffed ran back into the house. They had 23 kegs. A summer officer got on the radio, ‘Officer needs assistance,’ and everybody came. The mayor was there.”

“We never found him,” Lieutenant Felsing said.

The captain said, “I’m still looking for those cuffs.”


Jefferson County welcomes first K9 baliff

Veteran Jefferson County bailiffs stood back Wednesday as their newest coworker spent his first day on the job showing how he could search people for drugs and explosives without them even knowing it.

That’s because the bailiffs were too busy telling him what a good boy he was and patting him on the back to notice his sniffs were more than an affectionate greeting.

Ollie, a 4-year-old golden Labrador, and his handler, Cpl. Allen McKenzie, replaced head bailiff William “Butch” Myers, who retired last month after 39 years. McKenzie, also commander of the department’s K-9 unit, said he was interested in the position but didn’t want to lose his faithful coworker and companion.

Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer didn’t see why he should have to.

“It’s a win-win,” Boyer said. “It gives us the opportunity to use the dog and have it available for the road officers if necessary and, at the same time, provide an extra level of security to courtrooms.”

Ollie was trained to detect drugs and explosives through the Department of Defense’s K9 program. The program is rigorous and there is no room for “problem children,” McKenzie said.

Ollie was one of them.

He has a phobia of highly polished floors and sudden, loud noises.

The military offers dogs that don’t make the cut to police departments that have the time to work with the animals and help them overcome their fears.

The Jefferson County courthouse floors were a challenge for Ollie during his first few hours on the job, but McKenzie said he’ll have no choice but to overcome that fear now. And, with all of the attention he attracts with a simple stroll through the hallways, he’ll be over it in no time, McKenzie said.

The sound of his nails hitting the floors and panting turned heads in the traffic division. Before long, four women were standing around him waiting for their turn to pet him, and one gave him water from a cup.

“He’s going to be so spoiled,” McKenzie said, shaking his head as Ollie slurped the water.

St. Louis County Officer Rowdy Schmoll knows what McKenzie means. He is the K-9 handler for Eddie, a 3-year-old golden Labrador retriever who guards the St. Louis County courthouse, which has had a dog on duty since 1999.

“Having the dog there is good because of the nature of the business at a courthouse,” Schmoll said. “People are always coming and going at the courthouse and we get suspicious packages. Having the dog there gives us peace of mind.”

McKenzie said he plans to put Ollie at the entrance to the courthouse during the morning rush as well as have him available for children who are afraid to testify.

“Very seldom is a child afraid of a dog,” said Jim Woodard, an investigator for the prosecuting attorney’s office. “I think this is going to be great.”

McKenzie said word of Ollie’s presence should spread fast.

“It’s an incredible level of security,” he said. “People are going to see we have a detector dog and that word will get out, and that way people may think twice about having their friends hide dope and explosives.”

Carol Bobb, a Festus resident, agrees.

“It makes you feel more secure,” she said, after petting Ollie on her way out of the courthouse. “He’s going to like it here.”