After being the victim of a robbery, a Saline County resident is asking why the Quorum Court recently denied funding for additional Saline County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
During Monday's meeting of the Court’s finance committee, Maryanne Campbell questioned the Justices of the Peace as to why the decision was made to deny the request.
“I am the victim of a robbery and I am here tonight to ask you to beef up your security in Saline County,” Campbell said. “I want to be involved in it. I want to know if there’s a committee.”
Campbell, who lives In Paron, suggested having a substation located at the Paron Community Center.
“We need a place out there where the police can go … I am asking y’all to find a way to get it safer,” Campbell said.
According to the incident report, Campbell arrived at her home on April 7 to find a red truck with an attached trailer backed up to her home while a man was loading her property into the truck and onto the trailer. Campbell attempted to block the suspect, later identified as 30-year-old Jeffrey Leatherwood, from leaving.
Leatherwood allegedly rammed her vehicle and pushed it out of the way to flee the scene. Campbell followed Leatherwood until he failed to negotiate a curve and wrecked the vehicle. Injured from the accident, Leatherwood removed his shirt to apply pressure to his wounds and fled into a wooded area where he then allegedly stole a vehicle and at a high rate of speed, headed back toward the location of the original accident where Campbell said deputies and witnesses were still located.
The report also indicated that a deputy had to draw his weapon at Leatherwood as he came toward the scene in the stolen vehicle. Leatherwood turned the car into a ditch and became stuck where he was apprehended without incident.
After being taken to Saline Memorial Hospital for treatment for his injuries, Leatherwood allegedly attempted to bribe Deputy Harley Sowell into letting him go by initially offering him $243 to uncuff him, but Sowell refused. Leatherwood then allegedly told Sowell that he could provide him with more money at a later date to say that he slipped his cuffs and could not be caught. Sowell again refused.
Two other suspects were allegedly with Leatherwood at Campbell’s home, but to this day they have not been identified. When asked by deputies to identify the alleged accomplices, Leatherwood replied, “I ain’t no snitch.”
Leatherwood is currently in custody at the Saline County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond with charges of class D felony aggravated assault, felony residential burglary, felony theft of property, Class D felony fleeing by vehicle and a misdemeanor charge of attempting to influence a public servant.
Campbell said that she was grateful for the the Saline County Sheriff’s deputies who helped her and that they “saved her life,” but that she believes an increase in drug use in the county has made it more dangerous and that more deputies are needed.
“We need to have it safer for our communities,” Campbell said.
JP Steve Gladden told Campbell after the meeting that he was sorry for what happened to her and that he would do all he could to help her.
Gladden has been a staunch supporter of the sheriff’s department and for the funding for new deputies that the office has requested.
When the JPs elected to not fund the requested deputies in January, but voted to give county employees a raise, Gladden was the only JP to vote against the budget.
"We're sending a terrible message to our citizens today. We're wanting to cut adequate police protection and we're going to give elected officials a pay raise," Gladden said at that time. "If we can't afford it for our sheriff's office why can we afford it somewhere else?"
Campbell told The Saline Courier that what she wants it for the county to have enough people to keep its residents safe and that she plans to continue to advocate for more deputies and for a substation in Paron.
"I am not going away,” Campbell added.