Editor's Note: Sentinel crime reporter Rashad Milligan rode along with Douglas County sheriff's deputy Joe Pounds during his Wednesday shift patrolling high crime areas as part of one of the sheriff office's newest units — the Sheriff's COncentRated Patrol and AggressIve FelOny InterdictioN or S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. Unit. Milligan's account of his day with Pounds follows.
It’s 5:30 a.m. Douglas County sheriff's deputy Joe Pounds rolls out of his bed and immediately does 50 push-ups. His workout ends at 6:15 a.m.
“You only need about 45-50 minutes a day,” Pounds said of his morning routine.
He arrives at the sheriff’s office at 6:50 a.m. with his squad car waiting on him. It’s parked out front because Pounds is the department’s latest Employee of the Month. He’s one-fourth of the S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. Unit, a team-idea constructed by Sheriff Tim Pounds to crack down on illegal acts committed in high-crime areas.
“We get the bad guys,” Deputy Pounds said. “We don’t wait for the crime to us, we go out there and we’re aggressive.”
One particular area that the unit focuses on is Thornton Road. The industrial area's proximity to Interstate 20 brings in a high volume of drug traffic. The area also has many hotels, which comes with prostitution issues, Pounds says.
Before patrolling, Pounds makes a quick morning stop at QuickTrip to pick up some Muscle Milk for his post workout, a bag of peanuts for sodium, and a muffin for his guest. The customers inside of the store ask for their pictures to be taken and featured in the newspaper. Outside of the store, a man approaches and shakes Pounds’ hand and thanks him for protecting the community. Pounds spoke with the man for about three minutes after he showed his appreciation.
On Thornton Road, he gets a call for help at a traffic stop right across the street from Sonic around 8 a.m. The sun begins to rise and the radio in the squad car continues to run non-stop. All of the deputies on the radio are speaking in code, which sounds like a language completely foreign to English. Another S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N car pulls behind Pounds to help with the traffic stop as well. After screening the driver's licenses of the driver and passengers pulled over, the deputy discovers that the driver had a suspended license, the third such offense the driver has been charged with.
Patrolling continues as Pounds begins to give a little insight on his decade in law enforcement and working under his uncle as the new county sheriff. Having the Pounds last name comes with more attention, he admitted, but he wouldn’t change his last name because of the increased attention. He’s just a kid from the “country” who loves to play sports. He also describes himself as “goofy.”
After swinging by to help another deputy at a traffic stop, at about 10 a.m. Pounds spots a broken taillight in front of him and pulls the vehicle over. Pounds gets out and soon returns to the patrol car.
“Old age catching up to me,” Pounds said with a stretch, sitting back down in the car to run the driver’s license.
The driver had a DUI restriction on his license, so he could only drive to work and school at the time. The driver told Pounds that he was on his way down to work at the time of the traffic stop. Due to the time the driver was out and seeing the driver wearing a graphic T-shirt to go along with matching sweatpants, Pounds said he didn’t believe the driver’s story.
Customers and employees walk outside of the restaurant begin to turn their heads and stare at Pounds as he talks to the driver. Pounds eventually calls for more deputies to show up. The three deputies talk to the driver for about 45 minutes after the initial stop. At that point Pounds determines it is best to give a written warning to the man for his broken taillight.
“You’d rather let it go than falsely arrest him and fight it in court,” Pounds said.
The patrolling continues as he pulls into a gas station. A live drug deal was caught in the act behind that gas station before, Pounds said. He then pulls into the next parking lot over to see if any vehicles casually pass through the back area of the station. A van does.
Once the van enters the road, Pounds notices the passenger isn’t wearing his seat belt and he pulls the van over. Both the driver and passenger are asked to prove identification, but neither one of them had the ID cards on their person at the time. An 18-month-old baby and a dog are also in the van.
After providing their information on a piece of paper, the records show Pounds that the passenger is currently out on bail. The passenger was then searched as help was called in. A wad of cash and heroin was found in the passenger's front left pocket by the deputies, Pounds reports. The passenger was 31-year-old Justin Motes, who entered the back of Pounds' car with handcuffs.
“Looks like we’re eating lunch at the jail,” Pounds said after the 11:45 a.m. arrest.
Motes was allowed to speak to the driver of the van one more time, giving her directions of where she could find potential bond money. During the ride back to the sheriff’s office, Pounds said that the process of Motes’ arrest shows the aggressiveness of the S.C.O.R.P.I.O.N. Unit by cutting down on crime before the problems come to them.
Once back at the sheriff’s office, Pounds had to finish the necessary paperwork to book Motes in for the night. Since Motes is a convicted felon already, he had to wait at least a day to go to court for a potential bond hearing.
At 1 p.m., Pounds headed to lunch, where he got to show his “goofy” side. He spoke with everyone in the cafeteria with a smile on his face and gave compliments to the chef on the day’s main dish, lasagna. After eating and cracking more jokes at the lunch tables, he headed back to work upstairs to begin filling out his entire police report. On his walk out, Motes shook Pounds’ hand and thanked him for being respectful to him during his arrest.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Pounds said after the encounter. “If you don’t bring negative energy to the situation, there’s no reason for the officer to be negative.”
Pounds welcomes any bystanders to leave while he files his report because he said it wasn’t the most exciting part of his job. More deputies from all departments begin to come in the room as the shift changes from day to the night. Some help Pounds with his report before he presents it to his sergeant, and other deputies reflect on the day they had while on duty themselves.
Turning in Motes’ evidence ran way past 5 p.m. for Pounds, who still had the same energy then that he had when he first arrived at the office at 6:50 a.m. Motes ended up being charged with a seat belt violation and possession of heroin. His bond was denied the next morning in court.