Doug Daugherty – Changes
By Terry Bailey
When asked if much had changed in law enforcement in Mitchell County since he was first entered the field of law enforcement in 1972, retiring sheriff Doug Daugherty response was somewhere between a chuckle and a belly laugh.
“In 1972 there were 720 square miles in Mitchell County. There are still 720 square miles in Mitchell County. Outside of that, almost everything else has changed,” said Daugherty. “Wait a minute” he said. “Back when I started, the most dangerous call to answer, regardless of the location or the time of day, was a domestic violence call. This type of call still has the most dangers and surprises to them. A lot of things can happen in domestic violence situations and most of them are bad.”
“In 1972, it was legal for folks to drive down the street drinking 3.2 beer and wave the can at a police officer. That seems hard to believe today,” said Daugherty.
Daugherty recalled that when he took office in 1985, the law enforcement system in Mitchell County shut down from midnight to 8 a.m. At midnight the dispatcher clocked out, shut the door, and went home as did whatever officers were on duty. From midnight until eight in the morning if something happened either the sheriff or undersheriff, whoever was on call, was contacted. At eight o’clock in the morning, it was business as usual once again. Daugherty remembered, “Back in those days I sure hated to hear the phone ring late at night.”
According to Daugherty, the 911 addressing system is a mixed blessing, depending upon the age of the officers. “We older officers, when given a 911 address on a call, might think ‘Oh, that is south of Asherville’ or ‘That is just north of the Lake.’ The younger officers are more likely to use the map to locate the call by the 911 address. I suppose it won’t be long before everything is located by the map and the address.”
The K-9 unit has proven to be a very successful addition to the Sheriff’s force. Daugherty said with a smile, “Our drug dog is the only officer on the force who can understand commands given in Dutch, German and English.” The benefit of having a K-9 officer is based on probable cause. Before a sheriff’s deputy can conduct a search, he or she must have justifiable probable cause. That means probable cause that will hold up in court. When the K-9 conducts a preliminary search outside a vehicle and alerts to possible contraband, the deputy has probable cause to search the vehicle. This is irrefutable probable cause that is rock solid.
Another memorable change in attitudes towards offenders revolves around drinking and impaired driving. “Back then,” said Daugherty, “it was not unusual for an officer, when he saw someone leaving a bar late at night who appeared impaired, to approach that person, take his keys before he could get in his car, and take him home. From time to time, officers would pull someone over who had too much to drink and take them home safely. That type of tolerance disappeared years ago.”
The amount of required training has changed drastically since 1985. “When I took over the position, the former sheriff said, ‘Here’s the keys. It is all yours’ and left. I had a lot to learn in a hurry. Now a new sheriff in Kansas must complete two weeks of intensive training and become state and nationally certified before assuming the office. All new deputies must complete the law enforcement school in Hutchinson before they can begin.” Daugherty said all deputies including the sheriff, must complete at least 40 hours of in-service training each year
The ability to communicate has experienced dramatic changes over the years. “In the 1980s,” commented Daugherty, “the only method deputies out on patrol had to communicate with the dispatcher was their two-way radio. Depending on where they were at in the County, sometimes they could not communicate at all. In an emergency, a deputy might be required to knock on the door of a citizen and ask to use their phone. Now, we have much more powerful radios, repeaters on towers all over the County, and cell phones.”
When asked about the value of DNA testing as evidence that was not available when he became sheriff, Daugherty indicated that DNA provides law enforcement with hard and fast evidence that will hold up in court to prove guilt or innocence. “It takes all the guess work out of proving a case. In court, it is not what the officer or attorney thinks, it is what can be proven. Before DNA there were cases that could not be proven because of lack of definite evidence. DNA gives us that kind of proof.”
“The wearing of body armor and bullet proof vests was a rare occurrence when I first started, way back when,” said Daugherty. “Now it is a part of our everyday uniform wear. Our drug dog has his own bullet proof vest that he wears when he goes into action. Times have changed.”
The list of changes goes on and on: haz-mat training, racial profiling, sexual harassment, narcotics and the DEA, concealed carry, computers, legal liability and on and on. Undoubtedly many, many changes have come to pass and many more will occur in the future.
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