There is so much more to the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office than what you may see driving around town or attending an event at the fairgrounds.
The Sheriff’s Office has quite a bit going on behind the scenes, so let’s take a look courtesy of Sheriff Richard Hickox.
The office is divided into two division: operations and support. Within the operations division are the patrol and investigations sections, while the support division consists of civil, detention and dispatch. Operations is headed by Capt. John Rowe while Capt. Lee Orozco leads the support division.
Dispatch handles all 9-1-1 calls
Two of the most publicly visible aspects of the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office are dispatch and patrol. For anyone calling 9-1-1 for assistance in an emergency, their first contact is going to be with the dispatch section.
“We are the call center for all 9-1-1 calls in the county,” Hickox said. “Once we receive the call, we can then dispatch to tribal police, the fire department, Fallon Police, the ambulance, search-and-rescue, Bureau of Land Management (for Sand Mountain) or Nevada Highway Patrol as needed.”
Six dispatchers handle all emergency calls around the clock and have a range of experience from new hires to more than 20 years on the job. Each dispatcher works an eight-hour shift either alone or with another dispatcher and all are masters at multi-tasking.
“Just the other day, dispatchers walked someone through the CPR process on the phone while gathering information about the emergency and relaying it to our deputies,” said Hickox, adding that his dispatchers know the location of highway mile markers in the county and can help direct deputies to a particular location.
He said the county’s dispatchers are in the process of getting their certification in PowerPhone, a system that trains dispatchers to ask the right questions in a particular situation that will help deputies when they arrive on-scene.
Patrol covers county’s 5,000 miles
Drivers in Churchill County have seen deputies from the patrol section of the Sheriff’s Office. This section, comprised of five sergeants and 11 deputies, is responsible for covering the 5,000 square miles of territory in the county.
“Most of our population is here in Fallon, but we have smaller communities like Middlegate and Cold Springs that we service,” Hickox said. “There are also ranches up by I-80 and in the eastern portions of the county that we help when needed.”
Deputies are coroners
Hickox said something people may not realize is that all CCSO deputies are also deputy coroners for the county and have the ability to pronounce someone dead, handle remains and conduct death investigations. “This means that if someone dies in their sleep at your house, a deputy will be there to investigate and ask questions.”
Search and Rescue falls under Sheriff’s Office
Outdoor adventurers may be familiar with Churchill County Search and Rescue, which falls under the auspices of the Sheriff’s Office, although it is a fairly autonomous function and has its own budget, Hickox said. SAR team members carry the CCSO badge and coordinate with deputies when they go out to search for someone reported missing.
Oftentimes it is a joint effort between the Sheriff, Search and Rescue and other first responder agencies when searching for a lost person in the rugged terrain and often extreme weather conditions of Churchill County.
Investigators trained in forensic interviewing
Major crimes including fraud, assault and homicide are looked at by a sergeant and two investigators of the investigations section who are based in the old CCSO building just north of the county courthouse on North Maine Street.
Investigators are certified by Corner House, often viewed as the national standard for forensic interviewing.
"Our investigators are trained in techniques for successfully interviewing children who are victims of abuse,” said Hickox.
Over at the county jail, three sergeants and about a dozen deputies oversee detention operations 24/7 working in 8-hour shifts. Hickox said the jail averages about 50 inmates comprised of those awaiting pre-trial and all sentence-to-detention inmates.
The two people in the civil section process eviction notices, subpoenas, garnishments and temporary restraining orders. This section is also responsible for collecting fees and the issuance of work, liquor and concealed weapons permits.
Cooperation Between Agencies is Good, and Growing
Hickox describes his office’s working relationship with other first responder agencies as good and says that he and his deputies talk regularly with fellow law enforcement officers including those at the Fallon Police Department and the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribal police.
“We are looking to expand our memorandum of understanding with the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribal Police,” Hickox said.
“We have good cooperation with the Navy base and participate in their drills,” he said.
Hickox said he has established informal meetings and coffee with the Nevada Highway Patrol and meets regularly with them to coordinate safety and traffic control for special events in town, especially at the county fairgrounds.
The Sheriff’s Office is located at 180 West A Street in Fallon in a new facility which opened in 2017. The non-emergency number is (775)423-3116. The number for the jail is (775)423-1596 and the Civil Section can be reached at (775)423-8083. While the Sheriff’s Office serves this community 24/7, administrative office hours are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As always, the emergency number is 9-1-1.