Lions Club hears from Major Wendell Cofer about Sheriff’s Office

Published 2:23 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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Looking forward to the coming year, members of the Bainbridge Lions Club have a sense of security after hearing from Major Wendell Cofer, Chief Deputy of the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office. Major Cofer provided an overview of the multiple services provided to people in Decatur County by the team working under Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

The greatest portion – about 90% — of their activity consists of response to 911 emergency calls. In recent years, the number of emergency calls has ranged from 35,000 to 40,000 annually. Another major focus is the security provided for court proceedings; the team is responsible for security of nine different courts, and there are five deputies assigned to provide security whenever any of those courts is in session. Also, the people in this department constitute the enforcement arm of the courts; as an example, the deputies have responsibility for serving warrants.

Annually, Decatur County deputies typically provide transport of about a thousand individuals to or from other jurisdictions. As they respond to many and varied issues and concerns, the members of this team encounter a wide range of people, and some of them have critical needs. The number of homeless individuals to be found in Decatur County is increasing, and the department is likely to intersect with them when they are in a crisis situation. More and more, homeless people are leaving surrounding communities and coming into Decatur County. Some of these persons are impacted by mental illness and may lack the capability to conduct themselves in a rational and appropriate manner. Training and resources are critical factors in bringing encounters with these individuals to a positive conclusion, to protect the public and avoid unwarranted restraint of the person in need.

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The crime scene investigation unit is a recent addition to the team. This group is specially trained to identify and preserve evidence that may include fresh blood, finger prints and DNA. They are able to utilize the latest twenty-first century technology, including identification based on images of the eye. Critical information that solves a crime can be obtained from trace evidence, if correct procedures are followed and evidence is properly handled.

This group of public servants is thoroughly trained and stands ready to solve problems and assist the public, in whatever way they may be needed.