Pleased with new inmate-boarding income, sheriff says he wants to retire with OCSD in ‘best shape possible’
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed says the Greene County inmate-boarding contract with Ozark County is working even better than he thought it would. Ozark County received a $21,780 check for its first full month of housing prisoners for Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott a few weeks ago. Reed says he anticipates the checks will continue at about that same rate, which could add up to $261,000 annually for the county’s law enforcement fund.
Reed added that he plans to retire after his current term ends, and he’s working to make sure the department is in a position to “provide the best law enforcement possible for the citizens of Ozark County.”
The additional funds are helping to make Reed’s plans for the department a reality.
“This is 110 percent about protecting the citizens of Ozark County for years to come,” Reed said. “When I retire, it’s very important to me to leave this department in the best shape possible. I want the law enforcement in Ozark County to be the best it’s ever been.”
Reed said when he first brought up the subject of housing prisoners for Greene County, there were a few negative comments from people worried about bringing another county’s law-breakers to Gainesville. “Something the citizens of Ozark County need to understand is that, because of Ozark County’s financial crunch, we were in danger of going back 20 years,” Reed said. “The county revenue is just not there. Because of that, we lost one deputy and were in danger of losing another one. The writing was on the wall a few years ago. The grants are drying up, and with a county of our size, it’s very difficult to get one anyway. We had to be creative.”
Reed said he has not had one problem with the inmates from Greene County. “They’ve been model prisoners,” he said. “Also, it’s important for people to know that when those prisoners are released from jail, they are released in Greene County, from the Greene County Jail. They are never released here in Ozark County.”
Because of the additional income, Reed has already added a new jailer position and anticipates the possibility of adding more jobs in his department. Most recently, Reed hired Pablo Sanchez, a former Rockbridge Rainbow Trout Ranch employee, to fill the new jailer position. “He said he had always wanted to go into this kind of work,” Reed said. “It was a good decision to hire him. He’s a hard worker.”
Along with the new income from Greene County and profits from commissary sales, Reed and his staff have been working on other department improvements to increase public and staff safety, including the new video visitation and phone system that became operational in May. The system, totally provided and funded by Encartele, a correctional facility technology company, allows prisoners in each of the jail’s three pods to send and accept video chats with loved ones.
Weekly visitation, from 1 to 3 p.m. each Sunday, is also conducted through the video conferencing system, which lessens the burden on jail staff, he said. The video system can also be used for arraignments and other court hearings, removing the need for transporting the inmates to the courthouse.
Reed said the plans for department improvements are working out really well, thanks to a loyal, hardworking staff.
“God has blessed me with the most amazing people,” he said. “A sheriff is only as good as the people working in the department. The citizens should be proud of these men and women who work so hard to provide the best law enforcement possible for Ozark County.”
After decades in law enforcement, Reed said he feels like it’s time to turn the job over to someone else after this term is over. “It’s good to have a fresh mind in a position like this,” he added. “I will always be an advocate for the Ozark County Sheriff’s Depart-ment. This job has been a blessing to me. I love this place. The people here have been so good to me. I’m going to stay active and involved in this community.”