Every arrest made by Callaway County deputies, Sheriff Clay Chism remembers a pledge he made two years ago.
"We are placing an extreme emphasis on drug trade in an attempt to lower rural crime, especially burglary and theft offenses," he said. "When I was running for sheriff, I didn't make promises I couldn't keep. I'm working every day to fulfill those promises."
That work takes patrol deputies, investigators, supervisors and the sheriff into all corners of Callaway County.
"It leads us into Fulton and Holts Summit," Chism said. "I'm prepared to handle the issue wherever it is in the county."
Law enforcement officers and those in the criminal justice system acknowledge drugs spur other crimes.
"I recognize that drug offenses in the county drive so many other crimes, especially theft offenses in other rural areas — not just here," Chism added. "Sheriffs across the country fight rural crime every day. Drugs drive crime."
He mentioned an arrest last week of a person accused of stealing things like batteries from tractors.
"They're not using those batteries for their own vehicles," Chism said. "They're selling them for drugs. It's not just about the drugs themselves. It's about lowering crime rates. We know drug offenses are the catalysts for so many other crimes, especially theft and burglary crimes."
This has been a busy year for drug arrests.
"This year, we've conducted 184 drug investigations that resulted in several arrests from paraphernalia to trafficking meth amphetamine," Chism said. "As sheriff, I'll continue my pledge to taxpayers of Callaway County to fight the war on drugs."
Chism added the Callaway County Sheriff's Office has made 83 percent more meth arrests this year. Among the notable arrests occurring last month:
On Oct. 6, Callaway County's K-9 unit was brought in on a traffic stop near Calwood and two were arrested. In that incident, deputies found meth, cocaine and paraphernalia.
On the weekend of Oct. 12-14, deputies in the Holts Summit area arrested two after a traffic violation resulting in the discovery of heroin and paraphernalia. Two days later, two more people were arrested with meth and paraphernalia, and one of those people had been wanted on felony drug charges.
On Oct. 16, a raid in the Kingdom City area resulted in the arrest of seven men and one woman, plus a seizure of drugs: 3.5 pounds of meth, 1 pound of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Weapons also were seized.
On Nov. 2, a multi-agency felony drug investigation in Kingdom City resulted in the arrest of a man wanted on felony parole violations. In his possession was 1 pound of meth, a loaded firearm and more than $63,000 in cash.
"We're taking a three-pronged approach to our efforts," Chism said. "We're working with the community to obtain information needed to pursue drug investigations. Our deputies are expected to be proactive while patrolling the rural areas of Callaway County in an attempt to curb activity. And we're working closely with other local, state and federal law enforcement agents to combine resources in an effort to efficiently fight the local drug issues in Callaway County."
Callaway County is 842 square miles. The sheriff's office runs two 12-hour shifts.
"Sometimes there are three deputies, due to allocated staffing levels," Chism added.
So every deputy has to have his or her eyes open.
"We're on pace this year to handle 21,569 calls for service," he said. "That's 59 in a 24-hour period."
And so far in 2018, there have been 1,279 criminal arrests — about four per day.
"What you see on Facebook or our media releases under portray a snap shot of what we're doing in the county," Chism said.
Sometimes the people arrested are the same people as previously arrested. And, sometimes the people arrested spend little time in jail.
"Felony possession of a controlled substance has a pre-set (court) bond of $4,500," Chism said. "Pre-set bonds are set by the 13th Circuit Court (in Columbia), not by our two local Callaway County associate judges. The sheriff's office has absolutely no discretion in setting bond amounts."
Chism stressed that point.
"Ninety-five percent of arrests are placed on a pre-set bond that is set by the circuit court. Most drug offenders do bond out quickly because of pre-set bonds."
Chism said he considers law enforcement just one aspect of the criminal justice system.
"I am one part of a three-part system: Police, the courts and corrections," he said. "I'm trying to give due diligence to do my part."
Openly discussing crime — its root causes, and efforts to combat it — in a transparent way, is a choice Chism said he made consciously.
"I do my best to be transparent with our county residents about what is going on and what we are doing about it," he added.