What would inspire a Congressman to go on a ride-along with a sheriff’s deputy?
According to Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, it’s one of the best ways to learn about a local community.
“I find, without exception, that sheriff’s deputies, sheriffs, law-enforcement officers, in general, have a very good sense of what’s happening in our community,” said Loebsack during an afternoon ride-along Jan. 25 with Clarke County Deputy Sheriff Christian Decker. “They’ve often learned a lot about their community over the years, too.”
Loebsack motioned to Decker during the ride-along and said, “He knows a lot about it. As you can tell, I have a lot of questions.”
Dien Judge, Loebsack’s Congressional aide, and Amy Hansen, news editor of Osceola Sentinel-Tribune, were also in attendance during the ride-along.
The ride-along was the last scheduled event for Loebsack, who had already visited Rathbun Lake, Humeston and Leon earlier in the day.
While Loebsack has visited Osceola numerous times since acquiring Clarke County in Iowa’s Second Congressional District in the 2012 elections, he had never been to Woodburn or Murray before.
“It’s fine for Dien to get around and tell me about these places, but I need to be there myself, at least, from time to time,” Loebsack said.
While Decker escorted Loebsack on a tour of Osceola, Woodburn and Murray, the Congressman had many questions about the county and law enforcement.
Loebsack asked Decker what was the biggest challenge of his job.
“It’s tricking your body into sleeping whenever you can,” Decker answered.
When it comes to illegal substances, Decker said the county also sees a lot of methamphetamine, marijuana and problems with prescription pills.
Loebsack said there was a big Latino population in Osceola and asked Decker if there were a lot of language barriers that impacted his job as deputy sheriff.
“At times,” Decker said. “We have people we can get a hold of for interpreters.”
Decker added, when communicating to a Spanish-speaking adult, law enforcement will often converse with the adult’s bilingual child.
Decker said language barriers become more of a challenge when communicating with Russian- or Albanian-speaking truck drivers passing through on Interstate 35.
Another question Loebsack asked was if the winter weather had been a challenge to the department, and if cabin fever had caused an influx of calls.
Decker said it was the opposite of what people might expect.
“There was a pretty long period where we didn’t have many calls at all,” he said.
According to Decker, he has done many ride-alongs, but this was the first one he has done for a Congressman.
A Congressional term is two years, and Loebsack is seeking re-election in November.
Loebsack said it’s important to support law enforcement, as well as local communities.
“I really appreciate it,” Loebsack said while thanking Decker at the end of the ride-along.