Sheriff says tackling narcotic cases remains a top focus
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office enjoyed an active 2022.
Both the Red Oak Police Department and Red Oak Fire Department saw an uptick in mental health calls, and Montgomery County Sheriff Jon Spunaugle said the sheriff’s office was no exception, especially because the sheriff’s office tackles mental health cases through the court system.
“We get all of the 72 hour committals or involuntary committals. We serve all those and transport a lot of them. The Red Oak Fire Department is transporting more of the voluntary committals, which takes some of the heat off of us, but we still deal with a lot of those committals,” Spunaugle commented.
The sheriff’s office also tackled a number of dispute and accident calls in 2022, but Spunaugle said much of their calls were self generated, as they tackle the county’s drug cases.
“We’re very proactive. Somebody in the office, sometimes a few of us, has always got a drug case going. We’re always trying to work something. I got into working narcotics cases, and I’m a big promoter that we need to keep going,” said Spunaugle. “I’ve always said we stay about three steps behind, but I don’t want to get further than that. We’re very proactive on narcotics, which to me, leads to everything else, such as domestic abuse, thefts, even mental illness. It’s always been a focus to tackle narcotics cases as hard as we can.”
Also, the sheriff’s office has been updating equipment. Spunaugle said they’ve started updating the five-year-old computers in the car, and will soon be finishing up the surveillance cameras in the jail.
“We’ve been updating cameras inside and outside of the building, and all the software. We’ve gotten more than 10 years out of that system, which is well beyond the life expectancy. Once that project is completed, everything will be new. We’ve also done some routine equipment replacements,” Spunaugle stated.
The sheriff’s office didn’t add any more staff, and the sheriff’s office, dispatch office, and jail are fully staffed at this time. Also, they’ve added a second administrative clerk at the front desk.
“Now we have two people so one can be covered for vacations, or sick days, or whatever. We’ll always have someone up front. We’ve been running things single up there for a long time. I was grateful that I was given the approval to add another administrative clerk. It will make us much more efficient and take some of the workload off of the other departments, as well as making sure the public has somebody there,” Spunaugle advised.
Another new addition was a second K-9 and officer, which provides more coverage to the county.
“We’ve got them on each side of the shift, so there’s usually one available on every shift unless one of the K-9 officers is on vacation. That’s been a nice asset to add,” stated Spunaugle.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office contracts with the cities of Villisca and Stanton, and other than the Red Oak Police Department, it is the only law enforcement in the county. Spunaugle said that allows for a lot of coverage and mutual aid.
“We help out a lot with the surrounding counties, mostly the ones that touch Montgomery County. We don’t go to Pottawattamie County a lot, but we do a lot of mutual aid and assist Mills County a lot, and I know that if we’re in a situation where we need help, the sheriff’s in the surrounding counties will always send their guys. We have a good relationship with the surrounding counties.”
While Spunaugle said there wasn’t one particular call that stood out last year as the most interesting, one thing they know they must do with every call is to be prepared.
“You never know what you’re going to. You may think you’re going to something, and then when you get there, it turns out to be completely different. When you’ve seen almost everything, there’s still something new to see,” Spunaugle said.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has a peer support representative as part of the Red Oak Fire Station’s peer support program, and Spunaugle said they are mandated a number of training hours every year.
“There is ongoing training nonstop, between the deputies, jail staff, and dispatching staff. Also, one of the deputies was interested in hostage negotiation, so that’s a new training we’ve added. We’re always looking for new trainings,” commented Spunaugle.
Spunaugle added he’s pleased that the sheriff’s office can continue to provide a high level of public safety and keep growing year after year.
“I love where we’re at as an office. We have a great staff, and I’ve got a bunch of great deputies that are proactive, and I want to keep providing them specialized trainings and keep them on the streets. If I could ever get two more deputies, it would be awesome, because everything we do to enhance the office helps the public. That’s what we’re here for,” stated Spunaugle.
As they move into 2023, Spunaugle said they’re going to keep moving right on track as they are.
“We’re going to stay proactive and try to do everything we possibly can to make it that much better,” Spunaugle said.
2022 marked the second year of Spunaugle’s tenure as Montgomery County Sheriff, after serving 12 years as former Sheriff Joe Sampson’s chief deputy. Moving intothe sheriff role, Spunaugle said, was easy for him, because Sampson included him in everything and took over more and more of his duties.
“When Sampson was going through his health issues, he allowed me to take care of things. That is the best opportunity for learning when you’re taking the next level up. When the role turned into mine, it was a very smooth transition for me, and the rest of the office, because we all knew what we were doing, and the entire staff has been awesome.”
Spunaugle said he’s also pleased with the amount of experienced deputies and recent hires that make up the department.
“There’s nine sworn deputies, and from me down, the first five, each have between 15 and 30 years of experience, and the remaining deputies are five years and under. We’re sitting in a pretty good space, we have a lot of guys with a lot of experience which is good for guidance, and a number of deputies who are young and eager to go. It’s a good balance,” Spunaugle commented.