Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum spoke to the Cedar Key Lions Club members on March 22 at 7 pm at the Community Center. Introduced by Maurice Hendrix, McCallum spoke for well over an hour to an approximately twenty-plus member audience and followed with a question and answer session.
McCallum’s credentials are hefty. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, the latter in Criminal Justice from Nova University. He has functioned in many jobs that provide sensitivity and knowledge, enabling him to be an effective sheriff: dispatcher, jailor, trooper, and administrator.
McCallum mentioned that he ran for Levy County Sheriff three ties, the first time as early as 1986-87. He believes that those results have proven beneficial; he says he believes he is now a better, wiser officer of the law than he would have been earlier. He believes the position is an “honor and a privilege.”
McCallum oversees approximately 150 individuals and oversees four fundamental functions: law enforcement, detention, 911 communication, and 911 addresses.
The detention center is a 301-bed jail in which the unconvicted individuals are placed while they await hearings. The detention center and the staff function in many ways; in effect, the center runs a jail, a food service, a laundry, a hospital, a church, and much more. McCallum estimates that approximately 50% of the incarcerated suffer some kind of mental illness and 70 to 80% suffer from drug addiction and/or mental illness. He expressed regret that more, outside of law enforcement, is not done to help these individuals.
He proudly reported on his department’s Operation Melting Pot” in which 67 criminals were arrested and convicted. He lauded his staff for their excellent work on what was the largest operation in Levy County history. McCallum was quick to point out that not only are these individuals off the streets, but the smaller crimes that these people engaged in, are not happening, resulting in fewer burglaries, etc. , He also spoke proudly of initiating an ordinance, now a county law, that prohibits sexual predators and offenders from living together.
He spoke proudly of the 911 operators who are all state certified in emergency fire and emergency medical techniques. He also advised the audience to “be patient” when speaking to 911 personnel. He reassured all that help is on the way while the victim is speaking to 911.
Maurice Hendrix posed a most significant question near the end of the program: “Is it important in a city like Cedar Key for people to have functioning cell phones?” McCallum responded, “It is of vital importance.”