By Todd Duncan, Law Enforcement and Safety Specialist

This month’s Safety Short will highlight two NIRMA members who were recently caught in the act of exemplifying safety, security, and collaborative partnerships in their respective counties.

Knox County Sheriff Don Henery has been protecting and serving his community for decades and is no stranger to being recognized by NIRMA for his outstanding efforts in loss prevention. I recently had the pleasure of traveling to scenic Knox County to provide CPR/First Aid/AED training to Sheriff’s Office employees at the request of Head Jailer/Dispatcher Donna Hays. Upon my pre-dawn arrival on a snowy February morning, I immediately noticed the good condition of the Knox County courthouse grounds. They were well-lit; snow had been cleared from the parking lot and walkways with ice melt applied; and all exterior doors to the building were secured. I was quickly greeted over the intercom at the main entrance by a friendly Sheriff’s Office dispatcher/jailer who let me in after verifying my identity using building security cameras.

Upon entering the Sheriff’s Office, I immediately noticed that the building was well-kept, free of clutter, and equipped with modern technology. There was a clear separation between public and restricted areas achieved through physical barriers and locked doors. Sheriff Henery was one of the first to arrive for the class, took a front-row seat, and actively participated in all aspects of the training. Following the class, I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Sheriff Henery at the Red Door Grill across from the courthouse where a group of Knox County Commissioners had also gathered for lunch. Sheriff Henery made it a point to introduce me to the Commissioners, and it was clear from the friendly banter that he had established a positive relationship with the Board. Sheriff Henery also mentioned that he regularly attends County Board meetings to stay abreast of current issues and make himself available to the Board when questions or issues arise. Sheriff Henery also mentioned over lunch that he stays active by running and is hoping to beat his previous best time at the upcoming Trek Up the Tower stair climb race held at the First National Bank Tower in Downtown Omaha. After spending two days at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, it was clear that Sheriff Henery’s servant leadership, commitment to building collaborative partnerships, and emphasis on safety are having a positive impact on employees at all levels of the organization. Nice work, Sheriff Henery!

February also included a trip to the Sheridan County courthouse and Sheriff’s Office in Rushville, where I had the pleasure of meeting with Building Superintendent Jeff Davis. I pulled into the courthouse parking lot the morning after a significant snowfall with temperatures hovering at around -19 degrees. I immediately noticed the lot had been properly cleared of snow, Jeff was outside applying ice melt, and curiously the main sidewalk, ADA ramp, and steps leading to the main courthouse entrance were bone dry. Upon meeting with Jeff, who has been with Sheridan County for about three years, he mentioned he had come in at 4:00 AM due to the weather to get a jump on snow removal and ensure the walkways were safe before the courthouse opened at 8:00 AM. Jeff went on to explain that he was recently involved with the renovation of the walkway, ADA ramp, and stairs leading to the main courthouse doors, and as part of that project, they installed heating elements under the concrete to prevent ice formation and thus reduce slips and falls. Throughout my visit with Jeff, he was friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and professional. It was clear he had a firm grasp on facility operations and was committed to working together with other county officials to promote safety and security at the Sheridan County courthouse. Well done, Jeff!