WRIGHT COUNTY, Mo. – Wright County law enforcement agencies are coming together to create a new special operations unit to tackle rising crime rates amid ongoing staffing shortages.
The Wright County Sheriff’s Department, Mountain Grove Police, Mansfield Police and Hartville Police signed a multi-jurisdictional agreement to coordinate keeping the county safe. Wright County Sheriff Sonny Byerley told The Heartlander that the main focus of the group will be illegal drugs and domestic disputes.
“If you take drugs in a sense, it’s connected to almost every crime whether it be property crimes, assaults, domestic disputes, anything like that,” said Byerley. “We’re seeing a rise in thefts and domestic violence. Quite honestly domestics are a huge issue across the nation. We want to target that, along with the drugs associated with it.”
The Wright County Special Operations Group (SOG) will start off with 14 to 16 operators on the front line to do most of the field work. Each law enforcement agency within the county has at least one representative who will be involved with SOG. When the unit is at full capacity, the Sheriff expects to see approximately 25 officers working scenes together, including hostage negotiators and k-9 units.
Byerley said understaffing has been an issue for agencies across the nation, although the lack of police officers does not always stem from non-interest. Instead, the lack of officers can come from a shortage of financial resources.
“We’re doing everything we can to get them prepared, training-wise. But the cost of equipment to keep them safe and to do their job effectively is not cheap,” Byerley said. “You’re talking $200,000 or $300,000 to get them to start going out there and actively do their job properly.”
SOG will be holding a fundraiser dinner, silent auction and live auctions on Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. in the Mountain Grove High School Cafeteria. All proceeds will go towards the purchase of essential safety equipment, ammo and training supplies.
“Being a Sheriff is one of the highest law enforcement persons in our community, it is a very humbling experience,” Byerley said. “I wouldn’t be here without God, if it wasn’t for Him then I wouldn’t be in law enforcement.”