Pulaski County Sheriff J.B. King has seen many changes in the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department during his years in office.
King shared some of the highlights of his time as Sheriff, discussing the things he has been most proud of during his time in office, the transition to a new Sheriff, challenges facing the department and what's next for him.
King's weekly column is something he said he is very proud of. He said he felt the Sheriff's office was "unknown," and people didn't know how things worked.
"I think the column has answered those questions," King said.
King pointed to his and Tom Cristoffer's efforts to turn the department's car fleet around, jokingly referring to the fleet as a "mobile junk pile" when he inherited it. King said he felt they had done a "remarkable job" improving the quality of the cars.
King said he had to reinvent the way the office is organized, citing a complete change in the organization of the evidence room, computer and files because "files were gone" and there was "no inventory" of the evidence room when he first took office.
"You couldn't find anything," King said.
The one thing that King said he felt the most proud of was the contribution PCSD made to solving the 22-year-old homicide of Mary Nobles.
Nobles disappeared in August of 1985 during the manhunt of John David Brown. PCSD, Dallas County and Lebanon reopened her case in 2005. Her body was found in a farm pond in Pulaski County, after the water was drained in 2006. Brown, who was already serving a life sentence for the murder of a church caretaker in Doolittle, was charged with Nobles' murder and pleaded guilty in 2008.
"I took an enormous amount of pride in that case," King said.
King said there was "no feeling like" helping a family to find resolution in a case like Nobles' homicide.
Despite budget restrictions, King believes he has collected the "best possible people" and has made the Sheriff's Office an excellent "training ground for other departments," although he expressed a desire to keep many of the people he has lost to higher pay in those departments.
Reacting to national events was high on his list of things he felt was worthy of pride, citing the training he has been able to bring to the area such as the upcoming training concerning teen killers, improvised terrorist bombing, and the active shooter training.
King said he felt it was important to be "proactive to some of the threats" that could happen.
Many of the trainings and equipment King has been able to procure for the department were made possible through grants and he says he's proud to say that the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department is now "one of the best equipped departments around," despite funding issues.
Page 2 of 2 - "The biggest challenge facing this department is a lack of resources," King said.
King said the department has "half" the personnel it needs, it has to "react" to everything and because of the lack of resources is "treading water." He said he would like to see a half cent sales tax on the ballet to improve these areas because the area keeps growing which is causing more demands on the "underfunded" department.
"We have to have the people to work the cases or the cases don't get solved," King said.
King said he plans to help newly elected Sheriff Ron Long if he needs it and has been briefing Long on administrative issues such as paperwork, budget and other things Long will need to know, but plans to "take a rest" in the coming months.
King is planning to stay on with the department as a reserve deputy and help where he is needed, but plans to move at a slower pace.
On the future of the department, King discussed some exciting innovations he believes will be coming down the road such as a statewide radio system that will allow officers in their cars to talk to officers on the other side of the state, iris scans for all the jails in the state, facial recognition software, jails integrating into one statewide database and maybe even a DNA database.
When asked if he had any regrets, King said, "There are cases I would love to close… I tried to do the best possible job I could with the circumstances. I'm proud of my time as Sheriff. I've done a lot of good and made my share of mistakes. I like to think I've made less mistakes and done more good."