It’s the middle of the night. Your eyes fly open and you sit up in bed, listening. What was that sound? Maybe you hear glass break or your car alarm startles you awake. Somewhere down your dark country road, a dog starts to bark. Your heart is racing as you lean over to reach for the phone to call for help.
Or maybe you are driving home from work one evening. The sun is shining brightly and you are listening to your favorite new song on the radio. The next thing you know, another car darts out in front of you. Between the sun glare and the short reaction time, you are unable to avoid a collision. A pedestrian on the street witnesses the crash and takes out her phone to call for help.
Of course, no one plans to have an emergency, but these frightening scenarios can happen to anyone. The most important elements of any emergency are how quickly your call for help is answered and subsequently, the length of time it takes for emergency services to respond. It can mean the difference between life and death.
In Lenawee County, where more than half of the population live in rural areas, the Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol Division is responsible for responding to emergency calls whenever they are needed. Not only do they patrol the areas of the County without a dedicated police presence, the Lenawee County Road Patrol also assists the officers in the cities and townships with their own police departments.
The ability of the road patrol to respond to all emergency calls throughout the County, particularly in those areas without their own police departments, reinforces to residents that their calls will be answered and help will be on the way. This can provide a feeling of safety, while potentially deterring crime.
When the Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol division responds to assist the police officers of the smaller communities around the County it allows for these municipal police departments to respond more quickly and handle larger, more complicated cases by lending an expertise that smaller agencies may not have.
“If we were unable to respond to the calls of the community, those instances of car crashes, domestic violence, or assaults, could go unreported,” said Deputy Casey Opsal. “And unfortunately, unreported violent offenses have the potential to escalate to homicide. Our presence in the county helps to prevent the rise of violent crimes.”
It’s the response to these calls, regardless of the level of danger involved, that speaks to the dedication of the Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol. Whether it’s a motor vehicle crash on a County road or assisting a township law enforcement department in handling a serious crime by lending support, the deputies of the Road Patrol Division are committed to protecting and serving the residents of Lenawee County.
“We could have several cases going on at once,” said Officer Michael Samoray of the Hudson Police Department. “Without the County [Sheriff Road Patrol], we would have to rely on neighboring communities to respond, and that could take 15 minutes or more. When the Road Patrol responds, it benefits both the local community and the surrounding areas.”
Dedication is the Heart of the Sheriff’s Office
Early one fall morning in 2014, a call came into the Lenawee County Central Dispatch. When the dispatcher took the call, no one answered her but she could hear someone moaning. Although accidental calls come into Central Dispatch regularly, this dispatcher’s instincts told her this was a real emergency, prompting her to send two deputies to investigate.
When the deputies arrived at the Raisin Township address they discovered the house was on fire. As they moved toward the rear of the structure, they could hear someone calling for help from inside. It was then one of the deputies entered the burning building and crawled toward the voice. He found the victim roughly six feet inside the back door and grabbed the man’s foot to pull him to safety.
While most civilians would not dare to run into a burning building, the actions of the two deputies exemplify the dedication of the men and women who work for the Sheriff’s Office. Regardless of which division, the deputies and staff are completely committed to doing their jobs and protecting the residents of Lenawee County at all costs.
“We have a dedicated staff and this is a tough job,” said Lenawee County Sheriff Jack Welsh. “This can be a dangerous job and yet our people continue to go out there every day and do their job. Their dedication shows; they never waiver whether we’re shorthanded or we’re fully staffed. This is a great staff.”