Wednesday, January 28, 2015

WC: Behind the Badge - Frankie Springfield

J-E Editor
Everyday the people of Webster County are served by the members of our various local law enforcement agencies. From the city police departments to the Sheriff’s office and Fish and Wildlife officers, these men put their lives on the line every day so that we can be safe.
During 2015 the J-E will look to honor each of these officers by telling their story in the pages of our newspaper. Please, join us in thanking these officers for what they do.
Frankie Springfield

Being in law enforcement was never a goal for young Frankie Springfield when he was growing up in Sebree. When he was old enough he went to work as a volunteer at the Sebree Fire Department (SFD), eventually working his way up to serving as Assistant Fire Chief.

Springfield later went to Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) school and started working for the Sebree ambulance service, however he maintained his position with the fire department. He also became part of the SFD’s rescue squad.
In 1989 Webster County took over Sebree’s ambulance services and Springfield went to work for the city of Sebree, where some of the other fire fighters also worked.
“We still covered fires during the day while we were working for the city,” Springfield said. He said he can remember getting fire calls while they were working on water lines around town.
During his time with the city, Springfield got his first taste of law enforcement when he was asked to serve as an auxiliary police officer for the city. It was just a part time job he was doing to help out the city, but eventually it would lead him down a different path.
“Once you get it in your blood...once you get into this field, it stays with you,” Springfield said.
In 1992 he was approached by then Webster County Sheriff Jerry Marks. The county was in need of deputies, and Springfield had experience as a law enforcement officer. 
“I told him I would think about it,” Springfield said. “Before that, I had never considered it.”
Eventually he agreed and became a road deputy for the county. That only lasted for six months.
“After that I went to work in construction with my father,” he said. “I worked with him until 1994.”
In 1994 Springfield once again went to work as a road deputy for the Webster County Sheriff, this time under Kenneth Story. Over the next nine years he served both as a road deputy and eventually chief deputy.
“In 2002 I ran unopposed for the position of sheriff,” Springfield said. Since that initial election he has had four consecutive terms in office.
He said that since becoming sheriff, he has had some good deputies and employees with his department. Soon after that first election, the county built the new judicial center next to the courthouse, which resulted in the hiring of eight additional employees to work as court security in that building.
The current make-up of the Sheriff’s Department is six road deputies, two office staff and eight part time court security officers.
The best part of the job, Springfield said, is meeting and helping the people of Webster County.
“I love talking to the citizens,” he said. “I’ve always had a good rapport in meeting and talking with them. And I love helping them whenever possible.”
The downside to law enforcement, as he sees it, is that a lot of the time you make enemies. Not just any enemies, enemies that were once close to you.
“Sometimes you have to arrest friends,” he said. “Even worse, sometimes we have to deal with members of our own families.”
The county and the job have both changed in Springfield’s 21 1/2 year career with the Sheriff’s Department. The county has grown in population, and now the department has to worry about meth, which wasn’t even on the radar in 1992.
Since becoming Sheriff, Springfield has seen the department get new equipment, including a military issue humvee and two five-ton military trucks that can be used in case of an emergency or natural disaster. Last year the department got a grant, which has allowed all deputies to be issued sidearms, patrol rifles and tazers.
But perhaps one of the biggest and most important increases is that the department now provides 24/7 coverage.
“In 2003 we had one man on duty from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.,” Springfield recalled. “When he got off the sheriff went on call until day shift started.”
This fact is increasingly important as the size of the other police departments in the county has shrunk.
“When Clay and Sebree aren’t on duty, we cover their cities,” he said. “Providence has someone around the clock, but we will still go over and assist them when needed. At the same time, all three of those departments will help us out as well. We have a really good relationship with all of the city police departments.”
Springfield now has 21 1/2 years on the sheriff’s department, but he isn’t eyeing retirement yet. To reach full retirement he will need at least 27 years, which means he will have to serve at least one more term after the one that began on January 1, 2015.

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