“One of my first promises to the voters of Cherokee County was that I would control the use of the credit cards by our officers,” said Sheriff David Groves. “I can tell those voters, all the cards are right here in my desk drawer.”
“At the suggestion of Juanita Hodgeson the Cherokee County Treasurer, we have put limits on what the cards may be used for, such as travel expenses when they are transporting prisoners or going to class. The cards cannot be used at Wal-Mart or in ATM machines for cash now. I didn’t know you could restrict the cards but following her suggestion we have put the restrictions in place.”
Groves has been in office just two months but he says he has been impressed with the way the employees and deputies have responded to his tightening of the purse strings and his attention to the budget.
“I think they learned real quickly how tight I am when it comes to spending the taxpayers money,” chuckled Groves. “Everything goes through Gary Allen (Chief Deputy) then to Terry (Clugston, Undersheriff) if the request to spend money gets to me I can be the good guy and say yes but Gary and Terry have already looked it over pretty good.”
“The cell phones start expiring in April and we will be cutting down on the expense there, we will let the officers use their own cell phones and we will pay them a stipend for use on the job,” explained Groves. “Our cell phone costs are $1600 per month, which is a real problem with the budget.
“I am also happy with the way we have reduced the vehicle fleet, we of course are rid of the bus, and we cut down on the junk cars by trading them for two patrol cars. We should have picked up two new patrol cars which are being painted,” explained Groves.
To this point Groves said he has been concentrating on administrative duties, “fighting the budget,” and getting a feel for the job. “Terry (Clugston) and I have been getting out this week working patrol in some of the areas. I want the community to see us in their area. “The people who live out of town deserve the same police service as those in the city,” said Groves. “I’ve tried to stress the importance of patrolling the rural roads and unincorporated areas.”
Spending two weeks at the Sheriff’s Training School was important to the new Cherokee County Sheriff, though he had been to the school for police training, he didn’t waste his time.
“This was a good opportunity to network with the other sheriff’s in the area and meet the others,” said Groves. “I used the time to build our jail business and meet our current jail customers. We provide the jail service and it is good to keep their prisoners coming to our facility, it helps us keep our local costs lower.”
According to Groves, the population in the jail is around 75 prisoners average.
“I think we must be the lowest cost jail facility around because the people in Johnson and Sedgewick have to go through a lot of counties to get here but they still come here,” said Groves. “I believe we have a real good jail operation, I meet with the Jail Administrator Billy Charles every morning to go over the operation. I am impressed with how smooth it all runs considering how many prisoners we have and the schedule they have to keep getting them to court and other things.”
The one thing Groves feels he needs to continue to work on is getting his staff and deputies more oriented to serving the public. “The public expects us to perform at a certain level and I tell our staff we need to exceed that level.”
The one thing that has been somewhat of a surprise to Groves during his short tenure in office has been the number of people who have come out to wish him well.
“They just come in and give us a good feeling about the job we are doing, they tour through the jail facility and we are pleased when we are able to give them a tour or visit about some past problem.
“I don’t think most people realize how complex this jail operation really is,” continued Groves. “It is a great state of the art facility with a tremendous electronics system. The whole center is a great place to work.”
Though former sheriff’s have had a problem working with city chief’s of police and struggled with boundry disputes.
“I don’t think we have had any jurisdictional problems, the Chiefs and their officers are really great to work with, they’ve been great to us,” said Groves.
After two months Groves says he is happy as can be with his new job and has not run into too many unexpected problems. “It’s a great job,” he said.