Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Black Hawk County Jail

Sheriff's Office/Black Hawk County Jail Visit

After the class' trip to the Black Hawk County Jail and talking with Sheriff Tony Thompson, I have reached the conclusion that we have perhaps the best Sheriff in the state of Iowa, and that he should perhaps run for a higher office; admittedly though, a county jail is not the same as a city/state to run. This is the impression Sheriff Thompson leaves me with.

In large part, this is due to what he has done/dealt with during his time as a sheriff. These things include: a $600 thousand profit increase for the jail (in a public service environment), over $100 thousand dollars in security updates to the jail, managed the $12.5 million budget to near perfection, dealt with two national news stories originating from his office, and a state wide story involving an 18 hour manhunt.

"I love 80% of my job, and 20% of it takes up 90% of my time," Sheriff Thompson said. He followed that up with an anecdote about getting tasered during training and said it was, "like getting shocked by an electric fence 10 to 20 times as strong." Undoubtedly, this would fall into that other 20% of his job. I found Sheriff Thompson to be very quotable and sociable, a real help to the media.

To build on this, Thompson said himself that he is, "a firm believer in transparency," and, "not a very good liar." He also stated that he will always tell the media what he can within the confines of the law and that he understands part of his job is to, "feed the media," and that both the police and media have a job to do. His point about respecting the media because of what they can do to a public image was interesting to hear a sheriff say, I've never noticed that the police are aware of what the media says due to them being mainly focused on gathering facts.

Under Sheriff Thompson there is 102 deputies and 45 vehicles and maintains a 50:1 inmate to jeopardy ratio in the jail. He runs a jail with one of the few courtrooms physically in the jail house.

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