Hundreds of visitors toured the county jail, and got up close to four-legged members of the sheriff’s posse and K9 detail Wednesday as guests of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office open house to commemorate law officers memorial week.
Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini welcomed the throng, and invited residents to thoroughly inspect all the department has to offer.
“You’re probably amazed that there is so much equipment for such a relatively small department,” Pierini said. “We are very, very pleased at our ability to respond to anything that happens.”
He said the event is held to commemorate the officers who have died in the line of duty across the country. Every other year, the DCSO Honor Guard travels to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national ceremony in mid-May. The group plans to go next year.
“It’s unbelievable to see 19,000 names inscribed on the wall (at the national memorial),” the sheriff said. “We can’t forget they have given their lives to save someone else.”
Pierini praised the contributions from the community ranging from the Sheriff’s Advisory Council which has raised $600,000 in private donations for DCSO to the 60-member Citizens’ Patrol which handles traffic enforcement and other details.
“We couldn’t do this without all the community help,” he said.
Taylee Pickering, 14, Chelsea Osborn, 16, and Jessica Jaramillo, 16, were eager to talk about their experiences as DCSO Explorers.
Chelsea, recently promoted to sergeant, and Jessica, a lieutenant in the group, agreed that being Explorers had paid dividends they never could have imagined.
“We love each other and support each other like crazy,” Chelsea said. “I love representing the county. Being an Explorer teaches great values and a crazy amount of leadership skills. You learn to interact with the public and be confident.”
Jessica said she became interested after hearing her cousin talk about the group.
“She always talked about how fun it was. I joined because of her. I do want to do something in criminal justice, either forensic psychology or drug enforcement like DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration),” Jessica said.
Taylee, dubbed the “rookie” by her friends, said she was influenced by her grandmother, Paulette Lawless, who worked for the DCSO for 19 years.
“I want to look into becoming a law enforcement officer. I think it’s a great job to have to be able to help people and protect people,” she said.
She encouraged other teens to join. The Explorers are open to members ages 14-21.
“You’ll never know until you try it,” she said.
“It teaches you how to be a better person,” Jessica said.
For Chelsea, “You learn life-long skills. We’re more of a family. We love it and we all know and care about each other.”
Becky Hanson and her children, Hayden, 6, and Ruby, 8, attended two years ago.
“The kids wanted to check out the emergency services and the equipment,” she said. “They were a little smaller the last time and didn’t remember everything, so we thought we would stop by again.”
Kristin Eunson stopped by with her children Nick, 6, and Simone, 8, after their martial arts class across the street.
“This is amazing,” she said. “We wanted to see the jail. It’s pretty cool. They wanted to talk to the bomb squad.”
Carson Valley United Methodist Pastor Pete Nelson, a DCSO chaplain, offered the invocation. Angie Zajic of South Lake Tahoe sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Organizers estimated 800-1,000 people attended the event, consuming 600 hotdogs and bags of chips.