WALKER COUNTY SHERIFF REFLECTS ON FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB
After 721 arrests, 53 search warrants, 16 trafficking cases and a hefty amount of drugs taken off the streets, 2019 was a record year in Walker County.
The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said they want to send a message saying, “We will not tolerate illegal drugs getting into the hands of our children and those addicted.” A big reason for the successful year in Walker County is Sheriff Nick Smith.
Smith has been the sheriff for almost a year now after defeating incumbent Jim Underwood. The first-time sheriff candidate made vowed to fulfill some tall orders while on the campaign trail, and after he was sworn in almost a year ago, he hit the ground running.
“When I ran for office, I made a lot of promises and in this first year we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of those promises,” Smith said.
Smith had a busy first year on the job, working hard on projects to better his community. The department opened three satellite offices in Sipsey, Townley and Curry. Another station is currently in the works in Nauvoo and will open later this year. They widened their presence in small communities and in schools too.
“The biggest thing we’ve done this year was our school resource officers,” Smith said. “That’s put sheriff’s deputies in county schools that don’t have municipal law enforcement. That was Curry Valley, Lupton, and Oakman. We put four resource officers in those schools this year.”
The Walker County Sheriff’s Office made more than 721 drug-related arrests in 2019. They also ended the year with a 36% reduction of property crimes. And Smith was not just in his office during this: he personally made 55 arrests, wrote 37 traffic tickets and helped work almost all narcotics search warrants this year.
“This year has been a big year for us for grants and private donations and things of that nature,” he said. “We’ve accomplished over $100,000 in grant funding for things such as equipment for body cameras, in-car cameras.”
The department received money to replace some of the older patrol cars as well. Also, the County Commission approved $900,000 that was put toward repairs to the county jail. On a lighter note, Smith said he didn’t just want to clean up the streets figuratively, but also literally.
“We got two litter crews that run every day,” he said. “They pick up inmates from the Walker County Jail, they get out there and pick up trash. And one of the things we are doing is the inmates are not throwing away our cans and things that can be recyclable, so they save those and recycle those and we end up donating whatever proceeds to local nonprofits.”
Smith also wanted to stress the importance of the department being transparent and accessible to all people of Walker County.
“We use social media a lot,” he said. “We also utilize our website a lot. We try to push out a lot of information, so people know exactly what we’re doing and what we’re doing for the communities and each individual community, and I think that’s been successful. I think people appreciate us and the transparency we’ve brought in 2019.”
Through what he has deemed a very successful first year, Smith said he’s not slowing down in 2020. He plans to have more town hall meetings throughout the county, open a new training facility and a new narcotics facility, and upgrade the county range to start civilian firearm classes.