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Small In Size, Compensated Little, Presented With 300 Seconds Or Less of Actions, They Came Through

Rickey Stokes

Viewed: 4289

Posted by: RStokes
Date: Feb 24 2013 11:34 PM

DALE COUNTY AL:    In 300 seconds ( 5 minutes ) or less, life changed rapidly for 21 children, the family of a Dale County School Bus Driver, and the law enforcement community of Dale County Alabama.

Some 8,640 “stressful” seconds later ( 6 days ), what took 300 seconds to begin ended safely for a child forcibly taken hostage by a deadly killer.

In 300 seconds, 21 children witnessed something, fortunately, that 95% of us never witness. That is the taking of a human life before your eyes.

Yet that 300 seconds ( 5 minutes ) caused a department of 19, which includes the Sheriff and Chief Deputy, to spring into action within seconds that would last for the next 6 plus days.

Staff of Dale County Sheriff Department

Dale County Sheriff Department has a total of 12 patrol deputies, 5 Investigators, 1 Chief Deputy, 1 Sheriff, 6 part time contract deputies and process servers. They have 550 square miles to patrol and answer calls. It takes at least 58 minutes from the south end of the county, Highway 85 and 167 South of Enterprise to County Road 89 or near Clopton and the Dale/Barbour county lines. The county stretches from Highway 231 at Troy University at the Houston/Dale County line to north of Ariton near Coffee County and Pike County lines.

And Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson manages the department and the protection of the residents with a total field staff of 19 people. These 19 include himself and Chief Deputy Tim McDonald. The staff of 19 means persons for preventive patrol, narcotics investigation, criminal investigation and tactical operations.

In addition to the 550 square miles, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson manages a county jail with an average population of 70 inmates. That management is with about 13 staff members to maintain persons incarcerated from minor to major offenses, male and female, with a wide range of issues going on in their lives. With inmates having to be shuttled to court, doctors and other needs that persons require for life.

In addition, Sheriff Olson and the 19 full time field officers, combined with the jail and part time, manage the Dale County Courthouse operation. This includes four Judges, serving of all process over the 550 square miles, transporting prisoners, and maintaining peace and order in the judicial system.

During the 8,640 seconds, probably of which were  the most stressful time of Sheriff Wally Olson’s life in law enforcement, the Dale County 5 year old child was not the only issue on going in Dale County. Other operations had to continue and a department of 19 plus some part time deputies with 550 square miles to cover had to be managed and protected. Law Enforcement life in Dale County did not stop for the actions of Jimmy Lee Dykes.

How Did They Do It?

The successful end of a 300 second beginning came as a result of unity in Dale County. Many local agencies in and around Dale County were “unified” with each other. The all came together bringing diversity and harmony to Dale County, to operate under the command of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the County, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson.

Each person there brought a gift or talent to the table, that combined with the proper management, a plan was developed and executed. When the FBI Commander and ABI Commanders arrived, Sheriff Olson and the FBI Commander spent some one on one time together getting to know each other personally. Talking about their professional and personal life, things they have been through and thoughts. They discussed different plans and ideas. They discussed the diversity of the community and agencies, equipment and options. No decision was made that Sheriff Wally Olson was not in command and agreement of.

As a combined effort of multi jurisdictions, people from all walks of life, that brought to the table a unified goal, 8,640 seconds later, the final child was safe.

The Successful Conclusion Was As A Result Of Years of Planning

The actions of the killer took about 300 seconds from beginning to the real beginning for Sheriff Olson and others. After that 300 seconds of Jimmy Lee Dykes death and destruction, his kidnapping, within seconds, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson, 1 Chief Deputy and 17 others in the Dale County Sheriff Department, joined by a host of other Dale County and surrounding agencies, established a command, plan and execution of the plan.

When Bryant Mixon was Sheriff, plans were initiated that placed the Dale County Sheriff Department in a position to end this day with safety for a child. The plans initiated by Sheriff Mixon and supported by the Dale County Commission, and the plans continued, improved upon and enhanced in the years since Wally Olson took command of the Sheriff Department, with the support of the Dale County Commission, made everything a success.

Dale County being in a military county, the home to Ft. Rucker, both Retired Sheriff Mixon and Sheriff Olson have been able to secure equipment over the years. That equipment includes several surplus military vehicles, bucket trucks, low boys and semi to haul equipment, trailers and other equipment. It also includes helicopters and other equipment purchased at extreme bargains and maintained because of the charity of agencies within Dale County because of Ft. Rucker.

Equipment through the efforts of the Sheriff’s and support of the county commission, which were in a position to be used in the situation in the kidnapping of young Ethan.

RSN will not reveal some of the equipment, what it does and what it was used for. But rest assured when people ask “why does the Sheriff need…”, “why does the Sheriff have…”, when politicians use something to criticize the Sheriff Department for things they have or how they operate, remember…the ground work established for years came in to play in the successful conclusion of young Ethan being alive and safe today.

Equipment and Pay

When you see one of the 19 full time or part time Sheriff Department in their county vehicle out to eat on Friday night, before being critical think. A total of 550 square miles, 58 minutes across the county, management 24/7, when 300 seconds of someone’s actions can change everything. While that deputy is eating with his wife, he/she is subject to dropping and running to protect someone’s life or property.

When politicians or those opposing the law enforcement agency works to stop members of the department from driving their law enforcement vehicles home, to the store or church, remember, 300 seconds changed everything. And with some 19 people to manage the county, you always have to be able to respond, rapidly and with equipment.

Question: With an active shooter and an officer pinned down, do you have time to drive from Midland City to Ozark ( county seat of Dale County ) and get your vehicle, weapons, vest and equipment and then roll to Clayhatchee and place your life on the line to protect someone else?

Question: Did Jimmy Lee Dykes call and place everyone on notice, make an appointment for what he was going to do in 300 seconds or less? Did he give anyone any time to prepare or only time to react in seconds to work towards a successful conclusion?

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson, members of the Dale County Sheriff Department and family of law enforcement in and around Dale County, their unified effort, their preparedness, their taking advantage of grants and surplus equipment, made things happen. The actions of Retired Dale County Sheriff Bryant Mixon and Sheriff Wally Olson, in making reasonable decisions and preparedness for the staff of 19 full time and some part time deputies, provides protection for the Dale County residents and their guests.

The past support of the Dale County Commission, in making things happen within the department, a happy workforce within the Sheriff Department, makes it possible to manage 550 square miles 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. That support makes it possible for rapid deployment of men and women equipped to manage situations that take 300 seconds to create.

Sheriff Olson works to continue to look after the departments resources and staff, and be cost conscience. Olson has dedicated men and women, always willing to stand in harms way, responding in seconds, to the needs of the residents and guests of Dale County.


Thanks not only to Sheriff Olson but area Sheriff and Chief of Police for their continued vision. While today that H2 surplus vehicle seems unnecessary, you never know what tomorrow will bring as challenges.

Small departments have to be creative to make the staff happy, in order to manage large areas with few people. All agencies in and around the county have to be unified and bring diversity helping each other out.

Special Note

Over the years Ford brought to the table the primary law enforcement vehicle. With the changes in no more Crown Victorias for law enforcement, agencies have searched for replacements. Several automobile manufactures have attempted to develop vehicles for law enforcement use. The Dodge vehicle for patrol seemed like a good option but several agencies have not been pleased with their performance and cost of maintaining. Many departments, like Houston County Sheriff Department, has gone to Tahoes and SUV’s. These have seemed to be a cost effective fit for law enforcement.

The Tahoe SUV has brought room for required equipment for the officers. It has brought about the ability for off road use, while many are 2 wheel drive, they allow the officers improved ability to leave the road. They have brought about stability and the cost to operate are within reasonable comparison to the traditional Crown Vic.

Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes has been pleased with the performance of the SUV and has become a vehicle of choice for the department.

Some have questioned the SUV vehicles. After seeing them in action, the equipment officers are required to carry with them now for the protection of life and property, the SUV is a good choice.


Again thanks for the dedication of law enforcement, fire and EMS in the service to the community.

Thanks to Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson, the members of the Dale County Sheriff Department and support agencies for all you did beginning January 29, and even before and after that date.

Sheriff Olson, DO NOT let anyone change the path established from the past or looking into the future. Your residents depend on you. And you now have a proven track record of the steady hand in control.

Thanks to the men and women of your department for all they do when paid so little!!!

To The Pollands

In 300 seconds there was not time to be in place to save Mr. Poland. However, always remember...Mr. Poland gave his life to protect 21 children. Sheriff Olson, Dale County Sheriff Deputies and other agencies made sure that Mr. Poland's life was for ALL OF THE CHILDREN to be safely returned home.

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