Yankton County’s new sheriff, Preston Crissey, jumped in with both feet this January, implementing some higher visibility changes, and he continues to seek proactive innovations for the changing needs of law enforcement.
The first thing on Crissey’s to-do list was the implementation of an official Facebook page for the Yankton County Sheriff’s Department.
The Sheriff’s Office never had a Facebook page, Crissey told the Press & Dakotan.
“Before I got into office, I created the page so, when I came on, I knew it was ready to roll,” he said. “We uploaded Battle of the Badges stuff, and I’ll have the deputies, if we have a storm, go round to photograph different locations so people can know what their streets are looking like.”
Crissey pointed to one snowstorm photo that was shared 495 times.
There are many ways the page can be used to increase the agency’s visibility in regard to events, accidents, job openings and promotions, he said.
In keeping with having a strong web presence, Crissey had the department’s website updated to include links to many resources as well as a list of foreclosures, current inmate information and unserved warrants on wanted individuals.
Portions of the website are automatically updated daily, he said, adding that he has high expectations for himself.
“I need to realize that things take time and I’ve got four years to implement (them), and then, hopefully, longer than that,” Crissey said.
Meanwhile, Crissey said he is staying in touch with area small towns and has plans to make a presentation at Mission Hill’s council meeting next month. Also, he said he hopes to attend the next Gayville School Board meeting to start a conversation about a School Resource Officer (SRO) program there.
“Just because the (election) campaign stopped doesn’t mean that I’m stopping,” he said. “I’ve been to City Commission meetings already, I’ve been up to Lesterville, Volin (and) I was at Gayville last week.”
Another of the new sheriff’s concerns involves having less lethal tools for his officers in order to deescalate the various confrontations that can arise, Crissey said, noting an incident in Minnesota in which a man died after being tased by police.
“They used to say you could not die from a taser, but what would happen is that people would go into cardiac arrest sometimes because of (interference with) the rhythm of the heart,” he said. “They came back and said, ‘Well, we have to now say that there’s a small chance that you could die.’”
Despite the low risk, law enforcement officers try to avoid tasing anyone in the chest area, said Crissey, noting that sometimes that is easier said than done.
A recent demonstration for the department of a device called a BolaWrap could potentially offer another non-lethal tool, if implemented, he said.
BolaWrap is a hand-held device that discharges an eight-foot-long bola-style Kevlar tether to wrap and restrain an individual. The tether reportedly travels at a speed of 513 feet per second and has an effective range of 10-25 feet.
“Is it a better alternative than shooting some people with the taser? Yes,” Crissey said.
Another change expected to roll out soon involves the Sheriff’s Department’s vehicles, which will be transitioning to grey and black. It may even seem as though there are more of them.
“We have five unmarked cars, and four marked,” Crissey said. “What I’m looking at on the squad cars is redoing them, leaving maybe one or two unmarked.”
Visibility is important because the Sheriff’s Department works for the people, he said.
“We’re law enforcement for the county, and I feel we owe it to the people to be seen,” Crissey said. “Regardless of how people politically vote, we still represent everybody in the county, and I’m about community-based policing.”
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