County’s DUI Task Force sets goals for the next year

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The Sanders County chapter of the DUI Task Force met last week in Thompson Falls for their last meeting of 2018, and begin prep for the next year.

Task Force Chair John Marshall began the meeting with reading the minutes of the previous May meeting, to which was accepted by the committee.

In attendance for the October meeting was vice chair Jennifer McPherson and Sanders County Commissioner Tony Cox.

The meeting began with a wrap-up of the recent Sanders County Law Enforcement luncheon held last week at the Plains VFW Hall. Law enforcement was represented as Sanders County Sheriff’s Office, Thompson Falls Police Department, Hot Springs Police Department and Montana Highway Patrol.

A NUMBER of local officers were recognized for their dedication and maintaining law and order, as said by Marshall.

Four deputies were recognized at the luncheon, including Rob Largent, Roy Scott, April Phillips and Cory Wheeldon. Along with the deputies, Sanders County Undersheriff Lanny Hensley was also awarded recognition for his service and commitment to drug awareness programs within the county.

Hensley has been working behind the scenes largely for the department for a number of months doing what he can to help combat drugs within the county. Hensley is also very involved with the DUI Task Force, showing support where he can to help combat the drug trafficking and drug users in the community throughout the county, including inspiring members of the community to embrace a neighborhood watch style approach to report any suspicious activities they feel are unsafe for their community.

With Sheriff Tom Rummel presenting each of his deputies and undersheriff with certificates on the day, he has mentioned in the past that he considers his department a team and they do work well together with the end goal the same, keeping the community safe.

“If I could present everyone in the department with an award such as this I would. We are a team and every single person from the detention center to dispatch, to officers on patrol and all in between play a part that is important to the department keeping our community safe for everyone,” said Rummel.

THOMPSON FALLS Police Department recognized officer Jacob Winslow for his efforts since joining the force late last year. Though he was a part of the three-way tie for most DUI arrests in the county as he patrols the city of Thompson Falls, this is a great achievement to have been made.

“We’re very proud of Office Winslow. His performance exemplifies the hard work and dedication public safety officers put into their jobs on a daily basis,” said Thompson Falls Police Chief Chris Nichols.

Hot Springs Police Department’s Logan Martin was also part of the three-way tie. Martin has been working and patrolling with the department for five months. Marshall said this was a great achievement for such a short amount of time and shows the dedication this officer has to his community.

The third officer recognized for the most DUI arrests is Montana High Patrol Trooper Steve Spurr. He patrols both Mineral and Sanders counties with his department and ensures that he covers as much as he can during a shift. Spurr was at a training when the luncheon took place, his sergeant (Shawn Smalley) and captain (Jim Kitchin) accepted the award on his behalf.

Local Fish, Wildlife & Parks Game Warden Troy Hinck was also recognized for his work within the community. Hinck’s position as game warden does cross over to other areas of protecting the community, and he is often seen working jointly with the local sheriff’s office.

THERE WERE approximately 20 people in attendance for the luncheon on the day, and those that could attend were treated to a prime rib lunch with all the fixings. McPhearson said that food that had been left over was donated to the Plains-Paradise Meals on Wheels organization so other could enjoy a nice meal and food would not just be thrown out.

Both Marshall and McPhearson took advantage of multiple departments gathered together to check in on some matters that they had been looking toward for the task force, and to also see what they can do next to help local law enforcement.

One such goal they have is to work toward implementing an “anonymous call system” within the state that can help officers get drunk drivers off the road before an accident may occur.

The system would allow members of the public to essentially call a number to which there is full animosity to alert a law enforcement agency of a driver who they feel is too intoxicated to be behind the wheel.

BOTH MARSHALL and McPhearson explained that there are loads of benefits to that can flow through the community, any community, by implementing a call system such as this.

“We gained great support from all the agency heads we spoke to last week. The only thing that is stopping this from going forward is our political representatives. Yet they don’t see what the task force not just in this county, but other counties around the state are willing to do to make our communities safer for everyone,” expressed Marshall.

“We are willing to do the leg work, we need to look forward and be proactive. This call system is already doing great things in other states, so why not Montana,” he said.

The Sanders County DUI Task Force is now looking firmly to 2019, and with the support of local law enforcement agencies they are pushing forward to continue their hopes of making the county safe for residents and visitors by educating on the issues that matter.

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