Deputy tasered! Explosion at ARC! K-9 finds drugs!
The Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department hosted the third annual Sheriff's Kids Camp in Marlinton Saturday. Attendees had a chance to see a series of law enforcement demonstrations, had a chance to meet and talk with deputies, and got some insight into what the department does to serve the community.
“The purpose is to let the kids and parents look at what it is we do,” explained Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese. “We show them a little bit about some of the tools we use, and it gives them an opportunity to learn about a lot of stuff that they wouldn't necessarily be exposed to.”
“We want people to see some of the capabilities we have — maybe not all of them, though,” joked Jonese.
Jonese said the event is important for the community, and helps build a better relationship between the sheriff's department and the general public.
“It's really a good time for the community to come out and meet the deputies in a different environment and see what they do and they go through,” said Jonese. “The kids really like it, and it gives us a chance to show them we're the good guys. Sometimes they might hear the police did this, or the police gave a ticket to this person — it can give the department a very negative connotation. This lets them see we're just a part of the community, like they are. We're just here to do our jobs and keep them safe.”
Keith Wood, director of aviation for the state of West Virginia, has racked up more than 35 years flying experience, 22 of which were spent as a pilot in the Army. Wood flew in from Charleston in a Bell 206 JetRanger so kids could have a chance to learn about the helicopter and ask questions.
Wood said his duties differ depending on what time of year it is, but he spends a lot of time transporting the governor, VIPs and other state legislators. Wood said he was in Pocahontas County last year to assist in a search and rescue operation on the Scenic Highway.
“We were asked to come out and do a demonstration today for the kids,” said Wood. “This helicopter is the oldest of the three we have. JetRangers are a basic model and probably the largest production aircraft in the world. It carries four passengers, plus a pilot, and flies about 110 mph.”
Wood said what would normally have been a three hour drive from the state hangar in Charleston, took only 45 minutes by air.
“It definitely beats driving,” laughed Wood.
Will Nester is a K-9 handler with the Greenbrier County Sheriff's Department. Nester has been with the department for five years now, and was on scene doing demonstrations with his partner, Bo. Bo is a black Lab and has been with the department just a couple of months.
Nester said Bo lives with him at home. The interaction at home gives Nester an opportunity to supplement Bo's training and helps cement the bond between them.
According to Nester, the team does a little bit of everything, but traffic stops are where Bo proves his worth. With just an officer searching a vehicle, the process could take hours — Bo takes just a minute or two.
Nester demonstrated Bo's effectiveness for the crowd during a mock traffic stop — using real drugs. Bo took less than a minute to locate the jar of marijuana hidden in the bed of a pick-up truck.
Nester talked to the crowd about his modified police vehicle, a 2010 Chevy Tahoe. Nester said one of the automatic features is designed for Bo's safety. Nester said if Bo was in the truck with the windows up and the engine running, and Nester was incapacitated, in a traffic stop for example — an emergency back-up system would automatically roll down the windows and kick a fan on when the vehicle runs out of fuel.
Nester said a lot of time goes into training a K-9 partner, and they can be expensive — as much as $12,000.
Jonese said the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Department is working on getting two K-9s.
“We made contact with an individual who is going to do some grant writing for us, we're hoping to get two K-9s for drug interdiction,” said Jonese. “We had one several years ago, but he just got too old.”
Captain Troy McCoy, did a live explosives demonstration for the crowd by blowing up a honeydew melon.
“We employ a water based explosive for forced entry situations,” explained Jonese. “There's a detonation system in there, and explosive material that uses the pressure created by the water to force a door open. It's expensive, so we don't do it a lot, but we train with it once or twice a year. Fortunately, we haven't had too many situations where we've had to use it, but we've got to be prepared for the unexpected.”
Deputy James Peteete volunteered to be tasered by McCoy later in the afternoon.
“It's a great tool for law enforcement,” Jonese told the crowd. “These two wires got these two little needles. On the ends of those needles, there's a jagged little hook on 'em — like a fishing hook — so when it goes into the skin, it doesn't come out.”
The non-lethal devices used by the department have a range of up to 25 feet and deliver 50K volts to subdue an aggressor.
Jonese said he was happy with the turnout Saturday considering everything that was going on last weekend, and he hopes to bring the demonstration to local schools soon.
“Every kid that comes here has a good time and learns something, that's what it's all about — it's about the kids,” Jonese said.
To see more photos from the Sheriff's Kids Camp visit http://www.pocahontastimes.com/gallery/2012/09/27/third-annual-sheriffs-...