Gillette Area Leadership Institute Session Blog
Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Session 7 – Judicial Day
Leadership Trait: Ethics
Prepared by: Sonja Merryman, Merryman Spinal
We had another amazing session full of speakers, tours and other activities to give us a true understanding of our judicial system. After the day, we all left with a greater understanding and appreciation for those serving our county to help make it a better and safer place for us.
We started the day with a great overview and history of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office by Sheriff Scott Matheny. With only 12 sheriffs in the entire history of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, it was interesting to hear about past sheriffs and their main mission during their term -- from the red light district, to combating the problems with robbers, and the fight to become a dry county. We were surprised to hear our local sheriff’s office employs 163 people and is the 3rd largest in the entire state.
We then heard from the Communications Supervisor, Joey Williams, and Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds, who showed us the ins and outs of the dispatch room. After learning about the daily chaos emergency dispatchers endure, we were thankful to have this staff managing these stressful situations for us.
Gina Monk, the Information Services Supervisor, then showed us just how complicated the technology is behind every patrol car, as well as the body cameras each officer wears, and the space it takes to store everything.
The Bomb Squad surprised us all with their duties -- from bomb threats around the state, to disposals of old dynamite, to breaching homes and buildings under threat. With the life threatening situations our bomb squad are put into, their two robots -- which we got to see in action -- are true life savers.
Deputy Mitchell, a die-hard DARE supporter, then gave us a brief overview of the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use, as well as the problems we’re facing in our own community.
The highlight for many of us was the tour through the jail. Although we were barked at on our way through part of our tour, it was still fascinating to see the security and organization for each security level: 4 maximum, medium, and minimum. Last year alone, Campbell County made over 4,000 arrests. With such a large number of men and women to contain throughout the year, they have an extremely well-engineered facility to house those staying for a couple hours or even a couple years.
The surprising emotion was to feel so badly for those incarcerated, knowing they have no more than a few feet of sky to peer up at in one concrete block. This tour not only gave me a greater sense of relief, knowing how secure the jail is, it also confirmed any time sentenced to jail is in fact a horrible punishment. It’s hard to believe many of those in jail will end up there again.
Second Chance Ministries and Chad Beeman, with the Adult Treatment Court, addressed that very issue. Both share the same goal: to help our convicted citizens get back on their feet to prevent them from committing another offense and ending back in jail.
Judge Perry and Judge Rumpke facilitated a mock trial with (Campbell County Chamber Board Chairman) Ryan McGrath and Matt Sorenson as “supervising” lawyers. It was definitely a trial to remember. GALI President Maureen Costello played the role of “Judge Costello.” Ryan Allen and Justin Solaas defended the school district, while Fire Chief Bill Shank and Cynthia Johnson served as attorneys for the “plantiff,” Steve Crichton.
It was a hoot, to say the least, to watch each GALI member play their specific role in the trial. All laughs aside though, it was a great educational moment for us all. We learned a great deal of the inner workings of the court system, how a trial is ran, what you can and can’t say or do.
Overall the day was jam-packed with amazing speakers, tours and activities. We gained a better understanding and appreciation for our judicial system.