LETTER: Speaker system issue should be addressed

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

To the Editor:

[On a recent] Friday night, I discovered items missing from my property. Not knowing what other items were missing, I waited until Saturday to do a better search. My wife and I went to the sheriff's department to report stolen property. To my amazement, the doors were locked with instructions to ring a buzzer.

A lady asked what I needed. I started telling her about property being stolen when she wants to know my name, address, phone number, when it happened, etc. All this was asked on a speaker system with other people standing there listening! She told me to wait and someone would come out to see me. While waiting for an officer, a gentleman and lady walk up to report a missing person. The lady went through the same spiel — name, address and so on, asking all these personal questions. Really! This back and forth discussion was heard by about eight people waiting to see people at the jail or to report something.

I may not be the brightest person around, but you don't run a business like that (especially the sheriff's department), having to give out all your personal information on a speaker system for everyone to hear.

After about 25 minutes, we decided to leave. On the way home, the lady called to say a detective was outside looking for me. I told her I had waited 20 some minutes and left. She said he would come out to the house shortly (which he did). The deputy went over everything and said the information would be turned over to a detective and he would call me tomorrow because he was working on a missing person report, which I already knew about.

I understand a missing person is a hundred times more important than stolen items, and I hope for that family's sake that it works out and they find her safe and sound.

It is Tuesday now, and I will go back to the sheriff's department to see if someone was going to contact me. Hopefully, it won't be over a speaker system.

The reason for this letter is the use of the speaker system to interview people in front of others. I would hope someone can address this. If not, just wait until Monday to report any crimes unless you want all your information to be known by whoever is standing around you.

Bill Gibson


(Editor's note: Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter offered the following response: "We did solve his case and are in the process of getting all his property back to him, but as far as the speaker is concerned, we encourage people to call if they can and have a deputy come to the home.

On weekends and after hours, they have to come and speak to the dispatcher by way of the speaker. We are in the process of making some adjustments. What I mean by that is to talk through the speakers in a private setting. This system has only been in place for the last 18 months, and we know we have some issues with it. The county currently doesn't have the funds to for someone to greet people after hours, and we are trying to be as conservative as possible. This is the first official complaint we have received since this started. We do want people to tell us when they are not happy but have made some changes to hopefully prevent that from happening again."