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Update: Assault on LEO / City of Center Embezzlement

The Ralls County Sheriff’s Office would like to announce an update regarding the officer-involved shooting where both Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie and Chief Deputy Ronald Haught, Jr. were struck during an incident involving the former city clerk of Center, Missouri which occurred on July 3rd, 2019. The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has advised that the criminal case for assault on a LEO stemming from the incident has been referred to their office.

The investigation of embezzlement of funds from the City of Center, Missouri is being handled by the Missouri State Auditor’s Office in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will be referred to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office upon completion of the investigation.

Speed Enforcement Saturation

NEW LONDON, MO – On July 31, 2019 from 8:30AM-11:30AM, the Ralls County Sheriff’s Office in cooperation with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and New London Police Department conducted a traffic safety saturation on the intersection of US 61 and Highway A.

During the saturation, 30 vehicles were stopped for exceeding the posted speed limit. During the course of the traffic stops, 15 citations were issued and 15 warnings were issued.

The saturation stems from numerous traffic crashes at the intersection resulting in injuries and fatalities to the motoring public. Saturations will continue throughout the peak travel season in hopes to raise awareness and prevent further tragedies in Ralls County.

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$45,000 in Stolen Property Recovered

NEW LONDON, MO – On the afternoon of July 14, 2019, deputies received information about a possible location of items which had been stolen from an agricultural store in rural Pike County Missouri. The information indicated the items were being stored at a residence in Ralls County.

After an investigation at the residence, deputies were able to locate and recover approximately $45,000 in stolen equipment including two tractors.

As a result of the investigation, one subject was taken into custody and lodged in the Pike County Jail on a 24 hour hold for two (2) counts of Receiving Stolen Property. Additional charges are possible after review by the Ralls County Prosecuting Attorney.

The Ralls County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office.

Reward Offered for Information in Sue Epperson Case

 

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Blueprint for Safety

Deputies with the Ralls County Sheriff's Office will be working overtime on US 61 and other arterial highways watching for traffic violations as part of the Missouri Blueprint for Safety program. This grant-funded program is part of the State of Missouri's initiative to curb dangerous and distracted driving in an effort reduce traffic deaths on Missouri roadways. If you see a law enforcement vehicle roadside on a traffic stop, please be sure to slow down and switch lanes if possible to give them plenty of room to do their jobs safely.

School Threat Arrest

On the evening of February 10, 2019, officials with the Ralls County R-II School District notified the Sheriff’s Office of an alleged threat towards Mark Twain Junior-Senior High School made via the social media app “Snapchat”.

Deputies reviewed the postings and arrested 17 year-old Tyler M. Lanier of Center, MO.  Lanier, a student at the high school, remains in custody at this time pending the issuance of a warrant for 1st Degree Terroristic Threats.

Other adults and a juvenile have also been interviewed as part of the investigation, which is on-going, and additional arrests are possible.

Due to the strong relationship between the school district and law enforcement, including the Sheriff’s Office School Resource Deputy, information about this threat was quickly relayed and allowed for a swift investigation and apprehension of a suspect, without the need to disrupt school operations.

The Sheriff’s Office would also like to recognize the students and parents who immediately reported this threat which shows awareness in our community that we all play an important role in the safety of our schools.

Personnel from our office along with the New London Police Department, Center Police Department, and Missouri State Highway Patrol provided an increased law enforcement presence at the school campus this morning to help calm potential concerns of students and parents who may have been apprehensive about attendance today.

Anyone with additional information about this matter is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office.

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All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

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Search Warrant and Possible Explosive Device

RALLS COUNTY, MO – On the evening of January 24, 2019, members of the Ralls County Sheriff’s Office, East Central Drug Task Force, Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP), and New London Police Department executed a search warrant off of Highway T in rural Ralls County.

Drugs, drug paraphernalia, and cash were found along with an item which appeared to be a pipe bomb.   Once the item resembling the pipe bomb was found, the search operation was immediately halted and the MSHP Bomb Squad was called in from Jefferson City.

The bomb squad was able to determine that the device was inert and the search operation was concluded.

Arrested at the scene was 36 year-old Paul J. “PJ” Sultzman II.  Sultzman is being held on a 24-hour hold for possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia.  Additional charges are possible after review by the Ralls County Prosecuting Attorney.

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All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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2nd Degree Assault Arrest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW LONDON, MO – On the evening of January 14, 2019, deputies were called to an address on Oak Hill Rd in rural Ralls County regarding a domestic disturbance.

After an investigation at the scene, it was found that an adult female had sustained non-life threatening injuries during an altercation. A male, Michael J. Arnett, Sr., 46, was arrested on a charge of domestic assault. 

Arnett was arrested and lodged at the Pike County Jail. The female was treated and released at Hannibal Regional Hospital. A warrant for Arnett was issued today for the charge of 2nd Degree Assault. The bond on the warrant was set at $10,000 Cash Only with a condition to not contact the victim.

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New resource officer patrols Ralls County schools

By JILL ALEXANDER Courier-Post News Intern

 

Students have returned to school in Ralls County with one major change. School Resource Officer Chris Walotka is now present during the school day.

Students have returned to school in the Ralls County School District with one major change. A school resource officer now patrols Ralls County Elementary and Mark Twain Junior/Senior High School during the school day.

“My duties consist of making sure the school is safe and secure, such as making sure the doors are locked,” said new School Resource Officer Chris Walotka. “I walk around the school to make sure nothing seems amiss or awry, no suspicious activities anything like that. Mainly to be seen, to deter any kind of criminal activity through police presence and presence of the sheriff’s department.”

he plan to hire a resource officer became official in March. There had been discussion of adding the position since Superintendent Tara Lewis came to the district three years ago.

“We’re just looking for a legal resource that can be here at the school that can provide some extra protection that is more instantaneous, being out in a rural area, so we can have somebody right here every moment,” Lewis said.

Additional security measures are also in place at Mark Twain High School, including a new double door entry system and two-way radios for staff to communicate in an emergency situation.

Ralls County is not the only local school district to have an officer on campus. Other schools, such as Palmyra, already have a school resource officer.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing for us,” Lewis said. “It’s something that we knew that if we added it, it was there forever, so it’s not something that you can drop in a couple of years. Once you add it that’s your new culture, and it’s here.”

Ralls County freshman Autumn Arndt spoke in support of the new resource officer.

“I feel like it (school shooting) would most likely happen in big cities,” she said. “But I feel like everybody needs to have somebody there that can be there if something does happen, and I feel like we’re a lot safer out here, because we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere, but a lot of people go down this highway, and you never know.”

Officer Walotka’s presence in the schools also allows students to foster positive relationships with law enforcement in a non-confrontational situation.

“I hope nothing ever does happen, but I’m definitely happy to be here,” Walotka said. “I’m happy to meet the students and develop relationships later on throughout the community and put the sheriff’s office in a positive light. We’re here to help, we’re not here to be grumpy, and we’re not here to hurt people.”

Freshman Kenleigh Epperson said having an officer on campus increases her comfort level.

“I think it’s a lot better now, because everybody gets along with him and everybody trusts that he is gonna be there when we need him,” Epperson said.

Walotka said he hopes his work days will be relatively uneventful, and students and staff will be able to their school days, safe and secure.

“My goal when I’m here every day is for it to be as boring as possible,” he joked. “Meaning nothing bad has happened, everything has went well, and everybody goes home safe.”

Ralls County's New School Resource Officer

RALLS COUNTY, Mo. (WGEM) -

Starting this school year in Ralls County, Missouri, a police officer will be on site every school day. The new officer is just one of several changes to improve safety.

According to officials, the new school resource officer is something the school district and Ralls County officials have been discussing for a long time.

Students can look forward to new improvements like a new paint job for the high school roof, refinished floors in the Jr. high gym, and updated bathrooms, all things Superintendent Tara Lewis says are big for students.

"Those were definitely needing to be done and I think students and everybody will appreciate that whenever they return to school," said Lewis.

Changes are also being made to keep students safer, like changing how visitors enter the buildings.

"We're moving [the day time entrance] down to our Jr. High entrance where there's an office right there," said Lewis, "we've also added an extra set of doors to create a foyer area."

The safer entrance also comes with the hiring of a new school resource officer by the Ralls County Sheriff's Office, something Chief Deputy Ronald Haught Jr. said is a collaborative effort.

"It's a culmination of the cooperation between the school, the Sheriff's office and the commissioners of Ralls County, and it's a partnership between all three of those groups of individuals that have really struggled to put this together and we're pretty excited to have it happen," said Haught.

Haught and Lewis said the new SRO will help students be safer and also help them develop positive relationships with law enforcement.

"We're looking for somebody that's personable, and easy for the students to connect to, as well as the adults in the building, very approachable," said Lewis, "so that somebody could go up and easily talk to this person sharing their story or asking questions."

The sheriff's office says the SRO has been hired, and is currently in training.