Local law enforcement preps for Santa’s arrival in Decatur County

Published 4:02 pm Friday, December 23, 2016

Bainbridge Public Safety and the Decatur County Sheriffs Office have come together for a joint operation that is of grave importance to the residents of Bainbridge and Decatur County. The two agencies will be cooperating with each other on a project that is too big for one law enforcement entity to handle.

They will be dealing with a man of many aliases. Some call him St. Nicholas; some prefer Chris Cringle, or Father Christmas. The man in question however is commonly referred to as Santa Claus.

The officers and deputies are tasked with facilitating a smooth trip through Bainbridge for Claus. As it turns out, Bainbridge is a very important stop on Santa’s world tour. The Flint River provides his Reindeer with their water break and they get a snack provided by the feed left out by Flint River Mills. Without this vital stop, the reindeer would run out of energy and thousands of kids west of Bainbridge would wake up without presents.

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“This is one of the most important stops for Santa,” said Investigator Mark Esquivel of BPS. “Only a few people know, but if not for Bainbridge, Santa wouldn’t be able to finish his trips. So our job on Christmas Eve is one of the most important nights of the year.”

What seems like an innocent light display along the river is actually a way to light up the sleigh’s runway by Julie Harris, the Director of Community Affairs for Bainbridge.

Esquivel added that BPS keeps an eye to the sky the entire night and dispatchers stand at the ready near the radios listening for Claus to announce his arrival into Decatur County.

Once the call comes in, it’s all hands on deck. The DCSO sends deputies to all corners of the county to track the progress of Claus and help him with anything he needs.

“It’s unbelievably important to us,” said Sheriff Wiley Griffin. “We have extra deputies on duty that night to handle anything that may come up with Santa.”

Sheriff Griffin said that a lot of his work comes when the sleigh hits turbulence while in flight.

“It can shake some presents loose and they fall out of the sack.” said Griffin. “(Santa) then radios in to our dispatch with the location the gifts fell, then we go retrieve them.”

BPS officers and the deputies work in tandem on present recovery. Once Santa touches down along the Flint River for the reindeer’s water and feed, officers and deputies return the gifts.

“No child should ever have to wake up on Christmas to find no presents because they fell out of the sleigh,” said Esquivel. “Making sure that doesn’t happen is something I take pride in.”

There are never enough men, according to Esquivel. Some officers and deputies are tasked with following right behind the sleigh, picking up reindeer droppings in order to cover any trace Santa may leave behind.

It’s not glorious work, but someone has to do it, is the mentality the law enforcement entities have about it. They switch out though; deputies handle the county, and BPS handles everything within the city limits.

“The most important part of the whole procedure is that Santa remains unseen, that’s where the real issues start to happen.” Said Griffin. “We all have to keep residents in their homes and away from Santa’s rest stop by the river. If he sees anyone, especially a kid, he’ll fly off immediately.”

The two entities hope that their diligent efforts will help ensure that children throughout the county have a very Merry Christmas.