This is the first in a two-part series covering the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department as it works to accomplish its mission and vision.  Look for Part II next month.

By Gina Smith
January 25, 2012

Lincoln County Sheriff's Department. Photo from department website.

The mission statement for our Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is “To work as a team with the communities of Lincoln County to affirmatively and equally promote, preserve and deliver a genuine feeling of security, safety and quality services.”

The vision statement is “To be recognized as one of the foremost professional, effective, and progressive Sheriff’s Offices contributing to the communities of Lincoln County with no more victims.”

The sheriff’s office, directed by Sheriff Kerry Lee, is working to accomplish those two things. In a sit-down interview with Lee, he expressed the challenges and the accomplishments that Lincoln County is experiencing.

One of the main concerns of the sheriff’s office is the financial health of the county. Sheriff Lee describes it as a “double-wammy effect.” Personal financial desperation leads to more crime, and if the budget is cut on county law enforcement, that means less police presence to deal with it.

Another concern is illegal drug use in our county. Sheriff Lee states that the drug concerns are being shifted to emerging types of drug use. Drugs also increases other criminal activity such as theft, domestic violence and burglary, he added.

The county has two canine units, one in Alamo, and the other one in Pioche. The latter is trained to track people and drugs. Alamo’s canine is also a proficient drug tracker and is developing its people tracking abilities. These dogs are a major asset, not only on combating the drug issues in the county, but the Pioche dog was also used to search for escapees from the Caliente Youth Center. Both dogs are active in street patrol and making public appearances in schools and in the community.

The department has experienced success in the fight against illegal drugs. Recently, approximately 30,000 plants from the mountains within our county were seized and eradicated at very little cost to the county. Lee feels it was important to do so and keep this issue at bay because it affects the community in a big way. Activities such as hunting, hiking, snowmobiling, riding ATVs and other outdoor fun are a major part of life in Lincoln County and residents and visitors must be kept safe as they enjoy the outdoors, according to Lee.

The department coordinates with multiple agencies in the state and applies for financial reimbursement to assist in combating the marijuana problem. The biggest concern is what would happen if the drug was packaged up and sold within the county.

“If we don’t hit them hard now, it’s an open invitation to say come on in, and I’m not going to allow that to happen,” Lee said.

The Sherrif’s Department also takes an active role with the youth of the county. Lee reports that officers are actively involved in programs like anti-bullying campaigns in elementary and middle schools, drug and DUI presentations in the high schools and giving a “now you’re 18” presentation to high school seniors.

The latter program is multifaceted. Seniors visit the Lincoln County Detention Center where they listen to a presentation. They also are taken to the Highway Patrol Command Center, coroner’s office in Las Vegas as well as talk to the district attorney and inmates. This program brings home the message that at 18 equals adulthood as far as breaking the law is concerned.

The department also works to help young people in need. The “Shop with a Cop” program allows underprivileged elementary school children to shop with an officer for toys and necessities during Christmas.

“We want that relationship with the students, getting to know the kids and the officers, so that they have that trust,” Lee said. “So if there are any issues, they know they can come to law enforcement and they know they could trust us. And when they get older, they still have that relationship and it grows.”

The sheriff works hard to obtain monetary grants for the department. Much of the department’s equipment, as well as the canine units, are obtained thanks to grants, saving the county money.
Another important effort is coordination with neighboring communities. The department works closely with White Pine, Clark, Eureka counties as well as counties in Utah. Helping neighboring counties, Lee feels, is important because when the department is in need of assistance, it is reciprocated. Avoiding unimportant side issues and having a good relationship is what makes success for all concerned.

Community involvement is another key for the department. Tips from observant community members helped lead to the marijuana seizures and end burglary activities.

“We respond to every call’”, Lee said, adding that if they receive ten calls and nine turn out to be nothing, the one that was something is worth it. With that said, communities are encouraged to “look at a situation and evaluate it,” Lee said. “I prefer not for them to get involved because you don’t know who you are confronting.” He added getting a description or a license plate number and then calling with information is the best plan of action. He encourages implementing Neighborhood Watch programs in our communities.

Audio excerpt from the interview with Sheriff Lee below: