A day in the life: The Deputy

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Photo by MANDI BATEMAN A Boundary County Sheriff’s deputy keeps citizens away from a downed power line in Moyie Springs.

BONNERS FERRY — With an office consisting of more than 1,200 square miles, the Boundary County Sheriff Deputies spend a lot of time on the road, keeping the citizens of Boundary County safe.

Many people find themselves with that familiar light bar in their rearview mirror and instinctively slow down, gripping the steering wheel a little tighter, and wondering if they may have a taillight out, and if their car insurance is up to date. They don’t often think about all that the deputy is doing to help the people in the community.

This is a day in the life of a Boundary County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The shift begins with patrol routes, driving throughout the county, checking on communities outside of the Bonners Ferry city limits. The deputy is familiar with the areas, the citizens and their habits. He recognizes if something is amiss, indicating that someone could be in trouble.

A call comes out that there has been an unattended death. The deputy proceeds to the far end of the county, to meet and assist the coroner. His duty is to be there for the family, he says. He is also there to help remove the deceased family member and make sure that there was nothing suspicious about the death. He will take photos and look things over, and later write a report about it. He will also remove any prescriptions that the deceased person may have had and safely dispose of them, ensuring the safety of the family.

When the call is complete, the deputy leaves and passes two vehicles on the side of the road. The people are changing a tire. They have multiple people there and all the equipment, and seem to be progressing just fine. He drives by, but if they had needed help, he would have been turning around in an instant to help them.

The deputy soon hears over the radio that a Bonners Ferry Police Officer has a situation that may require assistance. He heads to Bonners Ferry to be close enough to give aid if it is needed.

Just before 5 p.m., a call comes out of a report of a power line that is on fire on North Division Street in Moyie Springs. The deputy responds to help with traffic control. When the deputy arrives, the Moyie Springs Volunteer Firefighters are already on scene.

A power line is down across a driveway. The flames have subsided some, but it still sizzles and sparks, smelling like Fourth of July fireworks. Moyie City Fire has one end of the street blocked, and the deputy offers to block the other side, keeping the citizens a safe distance from the live wire until the power company arrives to shut of the electricity.

The power company arrives and the threat to the community is now under control. The deputy moves on to continue his patrol routes.

While on the back roads of Naples, there is another call. A deer has been struck on Highway 95. Initially, it is reported that it is at the cross section of Schoolhouse Road, and the deer is reported to be injured but alive. The deputy will need to dispatch it. He searches for the deer with a spotlight mounted on the side of the patrol vehicle. Unable to find it, he speaks with the Boundary County Sheriff’s Dispatch again and they tell him that the location is actually by Sandy Ridge Road.

The deputy turns around and proceeds to that location. The deer is located laying in the middle of the highway. It is dead. The deputy makes sure that the person who struck the deer with their vehicle is okay, then dons gloves and pulls the deer from the road between cars and tractor trailers. He then assesses the damage to the vehicle and confirms that the damages are less than $1500, the driver is free to go.

The deputy continues his patrol checks. It is a good night. There is no snow and ice on the roads, but even if there were, when most people avoid driving any more than necessary, the deputy would still be putting on the miles, from one end of the county to the next.

On the North Hill, a truck’s license plate comes back as a different vehicle. The deputy stops the vehicle and on closer inspection, with a flashlight, it turns out that mud was partially obscuring the license plate, making a zero appear to be an eight. The driver is informed as to why they were stopped and advised to keep the license plate clean in the future.

At the top of the North Hill, a car is stopped on the side of the highway in an exit lane. The car has a disabled license plate and the driver is sitting in the car. The deputy informs dispatch that he will be stopping for a motorist assist. The driver is OK. They have just had a long day and are talking on their cell phone. The deputy asks the driver to pull off the highway, for their safety and the safety of other drivers who may need to use the exit.

The night wears on and the deputy continues to roll through the county, putting miles of pavement and dirt roads behind him. On a back road, he checks a spot that had a severe mudslide last spring. With the recent rains, he wants to make sure that there is no new movement. Along the way, there is a small tree down, partially blocking the road. He gets out and removes it.

It is now almost 9 p.m. The deputy has been on the road for six hours, around the same amount of time that it takes to drive from Bonners Ferry to Seattle. But his job is not all about driving. He has reports to do, so he heads to his office to work on paperwork.

The paperwork is interrupted when a fight breaks out at a bar. The people involved are intoxicated, but the deputy gets everyone settled down. No arrests are made and the bar remains quiet for the remainder of the night.

The night ends and the deputy’s shift is over. He will start again the next day, with his primary goal: To keep the citizens of Boundary County safe.

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