Law enforcement officer: ‘We have to be ready for anything’

Anyone attending the Salute to America event earlier this week likely saw a few Jefferson City police officers or deputies from the Cole County Sheriff’s Department walking around the festivities.

Sheriff Greg White said the area public safety and law enforcement departments provide more than just security for Salute to America.

“We really stage a much more significant operation,” White said. “It works out very, very good.”

Capt. John Wheeler, with the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, said the largest aspect of law enforcement’s role in the event was planning for it.

“We have to be ready for anything,” Wheeler said.

He said the department had about seven staff members involved in the event, noting he chose salaried members of the department to avoid costs to the department to secure Salute to America.

“It costs manpower, but not money,” Wheeler said.

However, when a Jefferson City police officer was involved in a motorcycle accident on Jefferson Street just before 6 p.m., Wheeler said the police had to pull out some of the officers who were staffing Salute to America. The Sheriff’s Department then brought in additional deputies to take their place, Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the department used the mobile emergency operations center, manned by volunteers, for a command and control center. The center has six cameras, set up throughout the district, he said, and the ability to be on the scene of any emergency situation.

Cole County EMS Director Mike Shirts was at the event Wednesday and Thursday, Wheeler said, with the mass casualty trailer set up in the Hawthorn Bank lot to be prepared for any situation that could arise at Salute to America.

“It was really a collaborative effort by everybody,” Wheeler said. “That’s nothing unusual. We help the (Jefferson City Police Department) as much as we can and they help us as much as they can.”

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