It wasn't just a fashion change for Randee Kaiser when he took over as Jasper County Sheriff, it was a change in mind set as well.
When former Carthage Police Capt. Randee Kaiser took over as Sheriff of Jasper County, he went from wearing blue uniforms to tan.
“I spent a lot of years wearing French blue uniforms and so it's taken a little bit of an adjustment, but it's really been good,” Kaiser said. “The transition has been really smooth. One of the things that I continue to tell people is that we've got a fantastic group of employees that has facilitated this transition and made this transition so much easier for me. They've been extremely receptive of changes and we've had a lot of positive things going on in the first 100 days. I'm looking forward to continuing this in the future.”
Kaiser defeated incumbent sheriff Archie Dunn in the primary before handily winning the general election and a four-year term as Jasper County Sheriff.
April 10 marked his first 100 days in office and it's been a busy time.
In a nutshell, Kaiser and his staff will :
• complete the handover radio dispatching of road deputies with the Sheriff's office to the Jasper County 9-1-1 center.
• dispose of 19 surplus vehicles and, a surplus boat and surplus mini-bus.
• have started the planning process to move the Sheriff's offices back into Carthage to the former Bank of America building on the northwest corner of the Square.
• have nearly completed more than $800,000 worth of repairs to the Jasper County Jail.
Captain versus Sheriff
Kaiser said it was a big transition from second in command of the Carthage Police Department to chief elected officer of the county sheriff's office.
“It's a different set of responsibilities, a totally different role,” Kaiser said. “It's still law enforcement and we're still working toward the same goals and purposes of public protection and crime prevention, so those things are similar. It's just that my role has changed from being the assistant chief over a 20 patrol officers and 40 total employees to being the head of an organization that has 150 employees and seven or eight divisions. It's just a lot more work and a different kind of work. Frankly, I rely on the command staff tremendously every day to get the job done and they have done fantastic. It's one of the things that helps me sleep at night is knowing that I've got very good people in charge.”
Kaiser said that first day was a day of apprehension for both the new boss and the staff.
“I guess there is a level of uncertainly, there was a time when I didn't know too much about the organization and employees and the employees didn't know too much about me,” Kaiser said. “There was a little period of adjustment where we got to know each other. We've come a long way since then.”
Page 2 of 3 - Moving headquarters
A big decision that is about to be made is whether to move the Sheriff's office headquarters from its current location on County Road 180 near the former Atlas facility between Carthage and Joplin to the former Bank of America, a building on the northwest corner of the Square owned by Jasper County.
Currently the county rents its headquarters at a cost of about $60,000 a year. The former Sheriff Dunn moved the headquarters to its current location from the Jasper County Detention Center in Carthage in 2007 and 2008.
The Jasper County Commissioners and Kaiser are listening to architects and engineers about renovations needed to make the bank building the new sheriff's office, but they have yet to receive a cost estimate on the project.
“I'm pretty much there with that decision,” Kaiser said. “The thing that we're still trying to determine is what the cost will be and we're hoping to find that out real soon. I haven't seen anything that causes me to believe that this is not a good idea.”
If the renovation and the move are not finished by the end of the year, the county will have to pay another $60,000 in rent on the County Road 180 facility.
“I'm a perpetual optimist and I'm going to be optimistic and say that we can meet that deadline,” Kaiser said. “It will be tough because there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get the bank building up and going. Anytime you undertake a project like that, it's a given that there's going to be a lot of time, it's not like I can just go hire someone and have them come in and make the changes. We have to go through the process of getting the bids and getting the right person to come in and get the job done, but I'm optimistic that we'll be able to get it done.”
Kaiser said moving the Sheriff’s Office dispatching from in-house to the Jasper County 9-1-1 dispatching center will improve response times because callers facing emergency situations will not have to give vital information twice to two different dispatchers.
It will also save the Sheriff's office money by not having to maintain software licenses and other costs for dispatching systems.
The 9-1-1 center has said it will try to dispatch the sheriff's office without charging a fee. In the past, when the center dispatched the sheriff's deputies, it charged a $110,000 per year fee to the sheriff.
“For me I think it's very important on a number of levels,” Kaiser said. “The two I always point out the most that I think the citizens of Jasper County would be most interested in, the ability for us to provide a better service for the money that's going to be saved by doing it. To me those are important things and I'm happy that we are able to do that.”
Page 3 of 3 - Kaiser said the sheriff's employees who were working in the sheriff's dispatch office have been reassigned and no one was laid off in the change.
“We've got everybody in their new positions,” Kaiser said. “They know where they're going to be, they know what their schedules will be and we're good.”