If you’re like me, you have driven by a residence and seen a deputy’s car parked in the driveway and assumed that the deputy was not an invited dinner guest. In all probability, he just dropped by for a quick minute to serve papers, the legal kind. Uh-oh. One of the duties of Field Operations of the Sheriff’s Office is to carry out orders of the court.
At our Tuesday evening class of the Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy, Major Collins explained the role of Field Operations. As leader of that division, plus Court Services, Major Collins told us that the county is divided into 32 zones with a deputy assigned to each zone. The cost of serving a civil process is $30 for in-state. In 2012, there were 113,884 civil processes received.
Beginning in July 2012, a new license plate recognition program was generated. Deputy cars, outfitted with cameras, can take a picture of the license plate. If the owner is identified as delinquent in paying vehicle property tax, a notice is taped to the car’s window. The owner has two days to pay the tax or the vehicle will be seized. A good incentive to pay on time, don’t you think?
Cpl. Thompson explained to us his role as a domestic violence officer. Once a judge has issued the judgment, the deputy is responsible with serving the Domestic Violence Order of Protection, known as a 50B Order, or No Contact Order, categorized as a 50C Order. As my classmate, Carol McLaughlin, pointed out women are fortunate to have this service. She noted that not that long ago women had little protection or avenues in which to seek protection from an abuser.
Another role of Field Services is the transport of inmates from one jail to another, or from jail to prison. They are also responsible with transporting a person for involuntary commitment to a mental health facility. Senior Deputy in Transport, Cpl. Thomas, told us he calls them “clients” out of respect. He made me one of his “clients” to demonstrate to our class how a person is handcuffed and shackled (if necessary) to be transported. We were all moved by Cpl. Thomas’s compassion and empathy for the people in his care. He doesn’t have to communicate with them en route to the facility, but he does so because he cares. When all hope seems lost to them, he lifts their spirits and gives them options. Thankfully, he gave me hope by removing the handcuffs and shackles and letting me return to my seat.
We are fortunate in Mecklenburg County to have dedicated individuals working in field services where they take on tasks that the rest of us would feel uncomfortable doing. So, if the deputy (or sheriff) comes a’knockin, you better answer that door!