Law Enforcement


A Texas County Sheriff’s Department officer was dispatched on April 9 to a Highway M property near Cabool after a woman called to report that there were four mules at the location and that one looked like it was in bad shape.

An investigating officer determined that all four were in good condition and had food and water. The officer also determined that the mule the caller had singled out wasn’t in bad shape – it was 31 years old.

Houston’s City Council and other officials met Tuesday and got a sneak peak at a new video system that monitors Emmett Kelly Park, the site of frequent vandalism.

The council gathered for a presentation from Police Chief Jim McNiell, who showed how it works.

Much to the surprise of the council, members viewed the monitor and saw vandalism occurring. McNiell dispatched an officer to the scene.

A West Plains firm installed the equipment.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested James M. Woolsey of Summersville on Wednesday on a felony Texas County Warrant for tampering with evidence.

Woolsey, 56, was taken to the Texas County Jail. He is the father of Jason Woolsey, who was arrested last week on five felony counts after an incident in which he was found with four guns on his person.

The Houston Herald is working on getting more information about the elder Woolsey’s arrest.

 

By Doug Davison, Houston Herald

In my weekly trips to the Texas County Justice Center to gather names of people checked in for overnight accommodations and document incidents dealt with by sheriff’s department officers, I have noticed a pattern in the behavior of criminals, suspects and even complaintants. That pattern has led me to a conclusion: there are some basic dos and don’ts with regard to attracting or avoiding the ire of the long arm of the law.

Here is a partial list in no particular order.

– If you don’t want officers discovering the pot plants growing in your backyard, don’t do something that makes one or more come looking for you at your place of residence.

– If you want an officer to believe you had something stolen, don’t leave evidence lying around that reveals you actually sold it.

– If you’re a man who goes out drinking for the day and have “violent” tendencies or anger issues, either go straight to bed when you return home or in some other way steer clear of the woman there who wonders where you’ve been all this time.

– If you’re arrested, don’t resist. You might not be found guilty of whatever you’re arrested for, but geez, you’ll definitely be found guilty of resisting (duh).

– If you’ve been read your rights and are being interviewed by an officer, don’t withhold information or lie. Just spill it, otherwise you’ll probably end up with hindering on your record even if you didn’t do anything else (again, duh).

– If there is an active warrant out for your arrest, don’t call to report an argument at your home. When an officer shows up, even if you tell him everything is OK now, he’ll still ask questions and your identity will be known (double-duh).

– Don’t keep repeating dumb things to an investigating officer who is asking you questions. Rebelliously saying things over and over like “it don’t matter” to a guy in uniform who thinks “it do matter” won’t score you any positive points.

– Don’t steal stuff and then offer to split the cash from selling it with a relative of the stuff’s owner.

– Don’t report that you’re being harassed when you’re doing equal harassing.

– Don’t report that something bad happened to you eight months ago and then explain that you waited because you “didn’t want to get the law involved.”

– Do think things through before acting, reacting, reporting or complaining. You might just benefit from it.

I’m no expert and I’m certainly not authorized to carry a Taser X26, but it seems to me that the business of law enforcement is flourishing for a lot of the wrong reasons.

But, alas, business is booming and from the looks of things there’s probably not going to be a recession any time soon.

Doug Davison is a writer, advertising representative and copy editor for the Houston Herald. E-mail ddavison@houstonherald.com.

Select officers of the Texas County Sheriff's Department now have at their disposal beanbag, left, and rubber bullets for use in specific circumstances.

By Doug Davison, Houston Herald

A 5 ½-hour standoff in early August of this year at a home near Houston between Texas County Sheriff’s Department officers and 39-year-old Robert J. Cantrell of Cabool prompted a change in the way similar incidents may be approached in the future.

About a six weeks ago, the sheriff’s department added beanbag and rubber bullets to its list of ways to deter crime. The shells are available for use by the department’s road sergeant and Lt. Melissa Dunn. Deputies are not given access to them.

The idea behind the move is that officers in a situation like the one involving Cantrell could potentially disable the perpetrator and procure his weapon without causing serious injury or death – and do so in a far shorter time than it typically takes to wait him out.

At a cost of $7 per shell, making the idea a reality doesn’t come cheap.

“It’s high, but it’s worth it,” Sheriff Carl Watson said.

Dunn said one box of each type of shell was fired off in a training session to help gain a feel for distance, pattern and strength. She and the road sergeant will each carry one box of each shell.

The shells are obtained from an out of state law enforcement supplier.

Undercover restraint

People in attendance at a high profile trial in Texas County might not see the any form of restraint device on the person being tried. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

A couple of months ago, the sheriff’s department began the use of stun belts, which are designed to curb outbursts by aggressive inmates or trial subjects without the potential of influencing juries as has been proven to happen with more traditional, visible devices such as handcuffs and shackles.

Typical stun belts fasten around the waist and can therefore be covered by clothing. At the push of a remote button, the wearer receives an electrical shock.

Texas County Court bailiffs are now trained in the use of stun belt remotes.

Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and general office worker for the Houston Herald. His assignments include a crime beat and through this blog, he shares some interesting, intriguing and sometimes funny insight regarding stories he discovers weekly at the Texas County Justice Center. You can contact Doug at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

By Doug Davison, Houston Herald

A Sept. 17 attack on an 8-year-old Texas County girl by a couple of pit bulls with an apparent history of being overly aggressive makes this as good a time as any to take a look at some interesting statistics.

Dog bites by the numbers (According to data posted on DogBiteLaw.com, a Web site produced by Kenneth M. Phillips, a Beverly Hills, Calif., attorney who is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on dog bite law):

According to an American Pet Products Manufacturers Association National Pet Owners Survey from 2007-2008, there were 74.8 million dogs in the United States at that time.

A survey by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC) concluded that dogs bite nearly 2% of the U.S. population; that’s more than 4.7 million people annually.

One out of every six of those bites (or just short of 800,000 bites per year) are serious enough to require medical attention.

Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day).
Many dog bites sustained by people ages 16 and over are work related (The U.S Postal Service reported that every year 2,851 letter carriers are bitten).

Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency among children engaging in voluntary activities (a report from the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, Child Injury and Mortality states that the leading causes of emergency room visits overall are falls, being struck by or against an object, natural or environmental causes, poisoning, being cut or pierced, and motor vehicle accidents).

According the CDC, Americans have a one-in-50 chance of being bitten by a dog each year.

2009 dog bite fatalities (according to data posted on DogsBite.org, a national dog bite victims’ group Web site dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks):

–– In 2009, 32 fatal dog attacks occurred in the United States. Despite making up only 5% of the country’s dog population and being regulated in military housing areas and over 500 U.S. cities, pit bulls accounted for 44% of these attacks.
–– In 2009, the combination of pit bulls (14) and rottweilers (4) accounted for 56% of all fatal attacks. In the 5-year period from 2005 to 2009, this same combination accounted for 70% (103) of the total recorded deaths (148).
–– The combination breakdown between the two breeds is substantial. From 2005 to 2009, pit bulls killed 82 Americans (about one citizen every 22 days), while rottweilers killed 21 (about one every 87 days).
–– 2009 data shows that 63% (20) of the attacks occurred to children 11 years of age and under and 38% occurred to adults. Of the children, 60% (12) occurred to ages 2 and younger. In all attacks, males were more often victims than females (59%).
–– 2009 data also shows that 38% (12) of all fatal attacks involved multiple dogs, 19% (6) involved chained dogs, 75% (24) occurred on the dog owner’s property and 25% (8) occurred off the owner’s property.
–– The state of Texas led in dog attack fatalities in 2009 with five, while Georgia and Illinois each had four, and California and Virginia had three apiece. Of the Texas deaths, the combination of pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 80% (four).

There appears to be a pattern here.

While it’s obviously not illegal to own dogs of questionable breed, one has to wonder if it just plain makes any sense in some cases.

Maybe the cities where they’re no longer deemed OK as apartment dwellers are onto something. Maybe large animals with an instinctive desire to tear into flesh shouldn’t be allowed to inhabit any place where they have easy access to that of young human females with substantially less strength (or males, for that matter).

But then again, maybe dogs will be dogs and the fault lies with the bite victims for coming within range of a canine ticking time bomb.

The debate as to whether people should be allowed to have as pets dogs of the breeds in question will not be solved any time soon.

But the numbers are undeniably interesting.

And realistically, having any breed of four-legged family member – but certainly more so for a couple – brings with it the responsibility to make sure they don’t get the chance to take a bite out of their neighborhood.

Doug Davison is a writer, copy editor and general office worker for the Houston Herald. His assignments include a crime beat and through this blog, he shares some interesting, intriguing and sometimes funny insight regarding stories he discovers weekly at the Texas County Justice Center. You can contact Doug at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

By Doug Davison, Houston Herald

Friday, Sept. 17 marked the third anniversary of the day Tasers came to the forefront of societal attention in the United States.

On that day, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry addressed a Constitution Day forum at the University of Florida, which was organized by a branch of the university’s student government. While taking his turn during a question-and-answer period following Kerry’s speech, 21-year-old student Andrew Meyer fired off a series of questions that event organizers didn’t care for. The microphone was switched off and Meyer was subsequently removed from the building by university police.

During the struggle to arrest Meyer, one of the officers stunned him with a Taser.
Meyer then repeatedly yelled out the now familiar phrase, “don’t tase me bro!”

The online encyclopedia Wickipedia defines the Taser as “an electroshock weapon that uses electrical current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles.” Its manufacturer, Taser International out of Scottsdale, Ariz., calls the effects of the device’s 50,000 volt, five-second shock “neuromuscular incapacitation” and labels its mechanism as Electro-Muscular Disruption (EMD) technology.

While the infamous incident involving Meyer became one of 2007’s most viewed posts on YouTube and even inspired songs by the Clash, Devo and rapper MC Lars, few people will ever know the feeling he experienced when he was “tased.”

But lots of law enforcement officers do, including many at the Texas County Sherrif’s Department.

As part of a training course required prior to being issued a Taser, officers must endure the horror one delivers. Lt. Melissa Dunn of the Texas County Sheriff’s Department found out what it’s like about four years ago.

“It’s the worst pain I’ve had in my life,” Dunn said.

Interestingly, residual pain from a Taser shot is all but nonexistent.

“When it’s over, it’s over,” Dunn said.

The sheriff department’s chosen Taser model is the X26. It functions by using a replaceable cartridge containing compressed nitrogen to deploy two small probes that are attached by insulated conductive wires with a maximum length of 35 feet. The X26’s electrical pulses are transmitted along the wires and into the body affecting the sensory and motor functions of the peripheral nervous system.

Taser cartridges cost $26 apiece, but a sheriff’s deputy’s uniform goes for even more, with pants running $36 a pop.

But the sheriff’s department has saved some money in the area of attire since Tasers joined the force, as not a single item of uniform clothing has had to be replaced due to damage from a scuffle between an officer and an unhappy member of the public.

Tasers come in summer and winter models, too. Winter versions have longer prongs designed to penetrate thicker layers of clothes. Not only that, they’re available in an animal-stopping model as well.

Doug Davison joined the Houston Herald in September as a writer, copy editor and general office worker. He’s been assigned the crime beat and through this blog, will share the most interesting, intriguing and sometimes funny stories he discovers weekly at the Texas County Justice Center. You can contact Doug at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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