By ROBERT S. MERRILL
Franklin County Sheriff Don Beckstead will hang up his gun next month after 32 years in law enforcement.
The long-serving law enforcement officer was appointed sheriff in 1987 after the retirement of Dean Gunnell. Beckstead has served the community as sheriff since that time.
He said he has enjoyed his career over the past three decades and, “loves” his job. “It’s all been good. There’s been some unpleasant experiences over the years. But it’s been good for me and my family,” said Beckstead.
The sheriff said when he started as a deputy there was Sheriff Gunnell and one other deputy.
“We used to put in 70-80 hours per week on patrol. That’s just the way things were done and what we were expected to do. Things have changed over the years. We now have nine officers and eight of them are on patrol,” he said.
Beckstead said there’s been so much improvement with technology and communications over the past three decades he can hardly grasp it.
“I just can’t begin to realize what a difference it has made to the department and the way it functions, as well as the general public’s safety. Some 30 years ago radio communications in the county were very limited because of the geography. Many times when you were on patrol and needed assistance from the fire department or ambulance folks you had to get in your patrol car and drive two or three miles one way or another in order to contact the dispatch center,” he said.
“Now we have computer terminals in our cars. We used to produce hand-written reports. Now we do them on the computer and use spell-check. We have cell phones. We don’t have trouble with radio communications in almost any section of the county. We can call for assistance immediately. We have ready access to background checks on individuals we stop,” he said.
The 911 emergency call system that was initiated several years ago was an amazing improvement. It speeds up our response time to emergencies immensely. The improvements are almost unbelievable, he said.
The sheriff said one of the most disturbing incidents he can remember occurred several years ago on Highway 34 in the Riverdale area.
“Cattle ranchers in the area were herding cows from Riverdale to Treasureton and they were on the highway just as you were going up the incline out of the Bear River bottoms,” he said. “A semi-truck and trailer was heading south on the road and plowed into the cattle, striking an individual on horseback. It was a nasty scene,” he said.
Beckstead said one of the most intense, on-going events he and his department has to deal with every year is the Logan-to-Jackson bicycle race in the fall.
This story is sponsored by LaMont Automotive.
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