By Alyssa Schnugg
To prepare for the future, Lafayette County Sheriff Joey East has created a new strategic plan for the Sheriff’s Department, outlining goals and expectations for the next five years.
East took the helm of the sheriff’s department in January after winning the election by a landslide in November.
“During my campaign for the office of sheriff, I met with many of you in the community and in the law enforcement profession,” he said. “I have taken into consideration all the ideas, concerns and suggestions that were made. I believe we have put together a list of goals that are attainable and will lead us to improve on the professionalism that has been established and expected out of the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department for over the last 40-plus years under the leadership of the late Sheriff F.D. “Buddy” East.”
The main vision of the LCSD is to “become a role model to our community, our children and to the public safety services in our county and state.” The mission, as stated in the strategic plan, is “to enhance public safety, reduce fear and impact of crime and improve the quality of life by providing professional detention and law enforcement services.”
East said in developing the five-year plan, he wanted to present to his deputies and other employees what is expected of them, how the department can improve, and how it can be the “best it can be.”
“Most of the plan is about self-improvement,” he said. “Improvement of us individually and the department. We want to make sure we’re ready, mentally and physically, to meet the challenges and the goals of the department.”
There are four core values in the plan – professional, accountable, compassionate and trusted.
“Our values present our ‘P.A.C.T.’ with the community,” East said. “It is the core of the unspoken and implicit agreement between citizens and their peace officers.”
Goals include identifying and implementing immediate and long-term facility needs; enhance employee safety, growth and retention; embrace and integrate technology; and improve safety and quality of life.
Keeping deputies healthy, both mentally and physically, can be as important as training skills, East said.
“We ride around a lot and spend a lot of time sitting in a car,” he said. “We eat terrible, a lot of fast food. We wind up having heart attacks and strokes because of the stress. We want to bring in experts to help us with that and to learn how to keep healthy.”
Another goal that the department has already started working on is embracing social media and its usefulness in communicating with the public. Since East took office, the sheriff’s department is now on Facebook and Twitter.
“We’re looking at more and better ways to communicate with the public,” he said. “Everything we do, it’s all about the community and doing what’s best for them to keep them safe and informed.”
The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department currently has 40 deputies who cover 679-square miles. On average, there are about eight deputies per shift.
The entire strategic plan can be viewed online at https://lafayettems.com/public-safety/sheriffs-department/ .