Thursday, April 12, 2007
Deputies get training
By SUE WATSON
Two Marshall County deputies, Cathy Elliott and Bernita Fountain, recently attended certification training as part of the department’s school resource officers and juvenile officers training programs, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
Elliott completed certification requirements for gang resistance education and training (GREAT) in Orlando, Fla., in March and Fountain was certified as a drug abuse resistance education officer (D.A.R.E.) after completion of training in Orange Beach, Fla.
The sheriff’s department has three school resource officers who serve all county school district campuses, partly due now to a U.S. Department of Justice grant of $125,000 which will pay for a portion of three salaries this year and next.
For three years prior to this year, the funds for school resource officers have come entirely from the sheriff’s budget.
Two of the three school resource officers - Elliott, Shane Goode and Tamara Jeffries - teach D.A.R.E. to make fifth grade students aware of harmful effects of illegal drugs and alcohol.
Dickerson is a strong believer in education.
“I’ve found that prevention is a lot better than the cure - incarceration,” he said. “Even if you don’t touch but one out of 10, you’ve made a great impact. And we’re hoping it is greater than that. A lot of children get the major portion of their education from in-school D.A.R.E. programs.”
Elliott said the 10-week D.A.R.E. program is being taught in Marshall County Schools for the second year. Children spend about one hour a week in the program.
Fountain, who has served as juvenile officer with Marshall County Sheriff’s Department for 10 years, will also join in teaching drug abuse resistance education in the county schools.
A pilot program for gang resistance education is to be started in Marshall County Schools and the sheriff’s department will apply for a GREAT program grant for all schools, pending funding next year, Elliott said.
Elliott also completed basic training for street gang investigators in Memphis in March. The program teaches law officers to identify gang signs, symbols and facts on the organized gang structure, gang activity, gang trends and gang tactics.
“Because of Marshall County’s proximity to Memphis, we do know that we have gang activity present in our community,” she said. “It is evident due to the criminal activity and graffiti associated with gangs. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department will continue to monitor gang activities and take appropriate action to protect our citizens to the best of our ability.”
Fountain said juveniles between the age of 9 to 17 who have committed criminal acts are ordered to youth court. If a youth is found to have committed delinquent acts, are truant, are run-aways, have mental health problems or have committed acts of theft or burglary, the youth are petitioned to youth court where a referee decides whether the youth should be held in detention in either Lee or Alcorn County juvenile facilities, Fountain said.
“I’m usually the arresting officer and I’m responsible for carrying them to detention and transporting them back and forth to court,” Fountain said.
Marshall County Sheriff’s Department and Crime Stoppers is asking residents to call in any information they may have on business and commercial burglaries and theft of any kind, said investigator Kelly McMillen. The department is particularly interested in receiving any tips on the thefts of four-wheelers, tools and small engine type equipment, he said.
“We are looking for information on both recent burglaries and cases that occurred as far back as four months,” he said. “The information would be highly valuable to our investigations.”
McMillen asked anyone with information that may be useful to law enforcement investigations to call him at the sheriff’s department at 662-252-1311. Residents living in the Byhalia area can call 564-2722 and those in Mt. Pleasant can call 662-851-7600 and leave their tips with an officer. Those providing tips are not required to give their names.
(662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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