Sheriff Howard Wells posed this question to a group of second-graders at Buffalo Elementary School Tuesday: How many civil papers were generated to be served by deputies in 2007?
The answers ranged from nine million to “twenty hundred.”
The right answer - 7,000 - brought gasps of surprise from the students.
“Out of that 7,000, do you know how many we had left that weren't served?” Wells asked. “Two. That's what it takes to make court work; to schedule a day in court.”
Wells also told the children that deputies had 4,000 arrest warrants to serve last year. Out of that, only 127 were left unserved - some because the person had left the county or was already in prison on other charges.
Wells and Lt. Robbie Hines, an investigator with the sheriff's office, talked to the children about the organization of the sheriff's office and crime scene investigation. Hines explained that since the Union County Sheriff's Office is smaller than many departments, investigators must utilize many different skills. Other departments have investigators who specialize in certain crimes.
“We work everything from shoplifting to petty larceny of a flower pot to homicide or murder,” he said. “We handle everything from A to Z. Each one of our detectives is pretty diversified as far as being able to handle anything.”
Fingerprints and blood are all part of evidence collection used to build a case against a suspect, Hines said.
“And the sheriff keeps us up to date on state-of-the-art tools,” he said.
Wells held up a plaster cast of a footprint made during a four-wheeler theft. He explained that a lot of information can be gleaned from a footprint, including the size of the person who made it, what type of shoe it was, and wear or damage to the shoe.
Wells said another part of his job is to oversee the Union County Jail.
“It was built to hold 44, there were 43 in it this morning and we have had as many as 60,” he said.