RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala.- Wednesday, eight Russell County Sheriff’s Deputies left from the sheriff’s department in Phenix City and made the roughly 1,600 mile journey to North Dakota. They arrived arrived Thursday night.
Sheriff Heath Taylor said a couple of weeks ago, at the National Sheriff’s conference in Washington D.C., Sheriff Paul Laney of Cass County stood up and requested that any sheriff’s office that could send assistance could do so when the next request came in.
This past weekend, a notification from the Emergency Management Assistance Compact asked for 125 more officers. When this came in, eight Russell County Sheriff’s Deputies volunteered and answered the call along with officers from other parts of the states.
Their volunteer efforts are being fully funded by North Dakota at no expense to Russell County.
Sheriff Taylor said the deputies that made the trip could be expected to patrol through campsites that have been cleared out to make sure there no remaining protestors on the Corps of Engineers land, as well as answer to other calls while local deputies handle potential protesters, holding secure lines and making sure no one is violating areas they are not supposed to be in.
Sheriff Taylor said that the volunteer efforts are not affecting the day to day operations of the sheriff’s office, and that it is business as usual in terms personnel.
Sheriff Taylor added that helping law enforcement communities across the country in times of need is what they do.
“When an agency gets into a situation where they are depleted in their manpower, and you’re running a detail 24 hours a day, seven days a week for five or six months, it is extremely draining on a budget and a department,” Sheriff Taylor said. “Their guys are absolutely exhausted. They haven’t had off days since August according to the sheriff up there, so we are just helping in any way we can.”
Sheriff Taylor said that when the first request first came through, it was estimated that the deputies could be in North Dakota for 10 to 12 days, but based on recent developments, Sheriff Taylor said they could be back this weekend or early next week.
“When you have the type men we have that step up and say ‘Hey, I’ll go, and I’ll help with what I can, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Sheriff Taylor said. “We have some wonderful people at the sheriff’s office. They have a serving heart, and that’s what this is about. Yes, it’s not Russell County community, but it’s citizens of our country and they are in need.”