Posts tagged with Douglas County Sheriff's Office

In unusual call, sheriff’s office helps rescue deer trapped in basement

No one knows how the deer got into the basement of a home under construction in rural Douglas County, but everyone agreed it needed out — and it was going to need help.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was called in to help with the unusual situation Saturday, and shared the incident on its Facebook page this morning, along with a few photos.

“On Saturday, we were dispatched to help a deer who was stuck in a precarious situation,” the post said. “Somehow, the deer had gotten into the basement of a house under construction. Because all that had been constructed were the walls of the basement, the deer was unable to get out on its own.”

Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Griffith, left, helps corral and lasso a deer trapped in the basement of a house under construction, Saturday, May 5, 2018.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Griffith, left, helps corral and lasso a deer trapped in the basement of a house under construction, Saturday, May 5, 2018.

Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Griffith and two county residents were able to corral and lasso the deer, the sheriff’s office said. They tied its legs just long enough for it to be lifted out of the basement and turned over to a wildlife officer.

“The deer was then released without injury, but hopefully a little wiser about houses under construction,” the sheriff's office said in its post.

Sgt. Kristen Channel said the deer rescue happened in the 100 block of East 650 Road. I asked what's the best thing for people to do if they have a wildlife problem like an injured or trapped animal, and she said the sheriff's office recommends not handling it yourself — but not necessarily calling law enforcement for every situation, either.

"Because they are wild animals, they can can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous," Channel said. "We don't want to see any person or animal get hurt. We recommend citizens contact either a professional animal control service or contact dispatch for a Wildlife and Parks officer or other law enforcement officer depending on the situation."

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.

Reply 1 comment from Ken Lassman

Scam alert: Real law enforcement won’t demand phone payment for warrants, civil papers

Officials with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are warning area residents of an old scam they say seems to be making the rounds again. Sheriff Ken McGovern and DA Charles Branson warned residents what to watch out for in an announcement shared this week on the sheriff’s office's social media accounts.

“We're seeing a recent increase again in scammers calling Douglas County residents and impersonating law enforcement over the phone. Don't fall for it,” the announcement says. “Please know we will never call you saying you have a warrant or civil papers and then try to get payment from you over the phone.”

If you do receive such a call, just hang up, and don’t call back if they leave a message. Do not provide any financial, bank or credit card information. Do not go to the store, buy a prepaid card and give the caller information from it.

“If you do, your money will be gone and it is almost impossible to get it back,” the announcement says.

Residents unsure of whether a call is a scam can call the sheriff’s office at 843-0250 or the DA’s office's Consumer Protection Unit at 330-2849.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.


Drug Take Back Day is Saturday; dump your expired, unused medications safely at 2 locations in Lawrence

Got expired or unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications? Law enforcement is planning an event that could spur you to declutter your medicine cabinet — and, more importantly, to help keep those drugs out of the wrong hands.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, as part of a national initiative, is planning a Drug Take Back Day this weekend. Unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs will be collected from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at two locations: inside Hy-Vee at 4000 W. Sixth St., and in the parking lot on the east side of the downtown Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St. (near the intersection of 11th and Rhode Island streets).

Veterinary drugs will be accepted, but the sheriff’s office cannot accept inhalers, needles or other sharp objects. There is no charge, and dropoff is anonymous.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including home medicine cabinets, according to a news release from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Additionally, traditional methods for getting rid of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — pose potential safety and health hazards and should be avoided.

“Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment,” Schmidt said. “Diversion of opioid painkillers, in particular, can contribute to the misuse of these drugs that has become a serious nationwide problem. Getting leftover medicines out of the medicine cabinets and safely destroyed keeps them from falling into the wrong hands.”

At Douglas County’s last Drug Take Back Day, in April, the sheriff’s office collected nearly 1,000 pounds of medications. According to the attorney general’s office, since the program began in 2010, more than 58 tons of unwanted meds have been collected and destroyed statewide.


— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.


Sheriff’s employees bring home a few belts from weekend boxing event

If you caught my feature story last week on the six Douglas County Sheriff’s Office employees slated to fight in a boxing event over the weekend in Kansas City, Mo., today you might be wondering how they did.

Pretty well, according to the sheriff’s office, which posted an update on Facebook after the event. Three of the boxers won their matches: Corrections Officer Jesse Cheek, Deputy Mark Mehrer and Corrections Officer David Pierce. The self-described “old man” of the group — and father of Jesse Cheek — Lt. Randall Cheek, 60, won his match by forfeit due to his opponent being injured and was guaranteed a fight next year. Two other sheriff’s office employees also competed, Corrections Officer Danielle Dunn and Deputy Rich Qualls.

The annual Kansas City Guns N’ Hoses charity boxing event pits law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics against one another in the ring. The event raises money for the Kansas City Crime Commission’s Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, which provides immediate financial assistance as well as burial and legal services to the families of fallen first responders in this area.

I’m guessing a notable chunk of proceeds this year came from Douglas County folks paying to see their relatives and colleagues fight — with six fighters, the sheriff’s office had by far the most representatives of any area agency.

— I’m the Journal-World’s public safety reporter. Reach me by email at or by phone at 785-832-7187. I’m also on Twitter, @saramarieshep.

Reply 1 comment from Charles L. Bloss, Jr.

Law enforcement, emergency management offer advice in preparation for incoming ice storm

If you're out driving and you begin to spin or slide, experts say the best course of action is to turn into the spin. But the best course of action, all agree, is not to be on the icy road in the first place, if you can help it.

Over the next few days Lawrence is expected to see a decent amount of freezing drizzle and rain. Yesterday, the National Weather Service in Topeka said it would not be surprising to see an inch of frozen rain.

An ice storm warning will be in effect for Douglas County from noon Friday to midnight on Sunday, according to the NWS.

In preparation for the storm law enforcement and emergency officials are offering a few pieces of advice for those bracing for the storm.

Douglas County Emergency Management said in a release the winter weather will likely hit the area in "three waves."

"The first wave will most likely be very light and spotty, but could begin as early as Friday evening," the release said.

While the first wave might be lighter it will serve as a foundation for dangerous travel conditions through the weekend, the release said. Then the second wave will likely hit Saturday afternoon and into the evening.

"This wave will be heavier and produce the most significant icing conditions," the release said.

In this file photo from Dec. 21, 2013, Kansas Highway Patrol officers work a multi-car accident caused by icy conditions on the Kansas Turnpike east of Lawrence.

In this file photo from Dec. 21, 2013, Kansas Highway Patrol officers work a multi-car accident caused by icy conditions on the Kansas Turnpike east of Lawrence.

Alongside treacherous driving conditions tree damage and downed power lines can be expected, the release said.

"The final wave of precipitation will move through Sunday night into Monday morning, though we are expecting this to be primarily in the form of liquid rain," the release said.

In a release the Lawrence Police Department encouraged area residents to buy "necessary items" before the freezing rain hits.

Once the freeze begins, LPD then encouraged residents to "take everyone's advice and stay in this weekend."

In another release the Douglas County Sheriff's Office offered a few tips, reminding residents not to underestimate the weather.

"It's Kansas, folks," the release said. "You know it can get bad quickly."

Though the sheriff's office strongly encouraged motorists to avoid travel unless it's absolutely necessary, it also offered a few tips for staying safe on the road.

"If you are in a wreck or a slide off, in most instances the safest place for you to be is in your car with your seat belt on," the release said. "In bad weather, it's not uncommon for other vehicles to wreck or slide off right where you did."

The chances of injury or death increase greatly if you're outside your vehicle, the release said.

"So buckle up and stay safe," the release said.

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.

Reply 1 comment from Richard Heckler

Boxing results for local lawman fighting for a Kansas City charity

Well folks, the numbers are in and it's a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to this year's Kansas City Guns N' Hoses event.

The annual event features area first responders boxing for charity; the money raised goes to the families of police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, medics and others killed in the line of duty.

I'll give you the good news first: The event raised around $105,000 for the families, said Mandy McNeil, office manager for the Kansas City Crime Commission. That's up from $68,000 the year before.

In addition, one local philanthropist offered the charity a check for $57,000, raising the grand total to $162,000 for the year, McNeil said.

"This was a big year," she said. "It's nice to see the community come through since we got hit so hard this year."

In all, about 1,600 people attended the event, which was held Friday night at the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom.

Okay, now for the less-than-pleasant news: Douglas County Sheriff's Office Lt. Randy Cheek, who boxed in the event, lost his bout.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Kristen Dymacek said Cheek's fight, which was against an Olathe firefighter, was evenly matched. Ultimately, however, the judges agreed that the firefighter won.

Regardless, the sheriff's office "is proud of Lt. Cheek for representing the agency so well during the charity event," Dymacek said.

Heading into the event, Cheek told me his goal was simply to compete. He had been training for the match since July, losing 25 pounds in the process and (hopefully) showing the other deputies that even at 59 years of age, it's still possible to get out there and tear it up.

Randy Cheek

Randy Cheek by Conrad Swanson

Win or lose, Cheek told me he's just happy to play a part in a charity event that's so near and dear to his heart.

Whatever the outcome of his fight may have been, I saw Cheek in the gym and came to the conclusion that he's not somebody I'd want to tangle with.

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.


Local lawman to box in Kansas City for fallen first responders

Randy Cheek is trying his hand(s) at the sweet science.

On Friday, Cheek, a lieutenant with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, will box against another area first responder for an annual charity event in Kansas City called Guns N' Hoses.

The event raises money for the families of first responders who were killed in the line of duty, Cheek said.

"It's a great cause," he said. "That's what it's really all about, to support the families and spouses of those that made the ultimate sacrifice."

All told, there will be 12 fights Friday night, Cheek said. Typically the bouts will be between law enforcement and firefighters — an age-old rivalry — but there will also be a few corrections officers and medical responders in the mix as well.

The cause is one Cheek believes so strongly in that he's willing to get punched in the face. Or perhaps he'll be the one doing the punching.

Cheek said he started training in July and he's been taking it seriously, working hard to compete.

Cheek said he may well be the oldest person at the competition.

"I'm 59 years old," he said. "And if I can get out and get in shape and compete it might inspire the officers in my agency and show them they could do it as well."

Since he started training, Cheek said he has lost about 25 pounds and has spent a lot of time doing cardiovascular exercise.

All Cheek wants to do is compete. He's less concerned about the outcome of the fight.

"We had a dinner before the fight where we had a chance to meet our opponents," he said. "You converse with them and they're all in it for the right reasons."

"There are no winners and no losers in this," he said. "It all goes to the families and spouses."

And despite the fact that his son has been trying to get him to enter the ring with the boxing classic "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky, he went instead with the Elvis song "Trouble."

"If you're looking for trouble, you came to the right place."

Randy Cheek

Randy Cheek by Conrad Swanson

The doors for Guns N' Hoses open at 6 p.m. at the Kansas City Convention Center Grand Ballroom, 1502 Wyandotte St. The fights start at 7 p.m.

General admission tickets are $25 at the door or on

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.


Patrol Service Dog catches fleeing suspect; fight over truck; one arrested after teen says he was beaten by relative

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story on the Lawrence Police Department’s new Patrol Service Dog program. During my research on the article, I got to see one of them – named “C.B.” (shortened from “Cheeseburger”) – in action.

To show off some of C.B.’s training, Officer Matt Weidel had the dog find my keys and phone, which we had strewn in the grass, by sniffing out the “human scent” that naturally rubs off on items as we go about our day.

C.B., one of two dogs owned by the Lawrence Police Department, trains Aug. 13.

C.B., one of two dogs owned by the Lawrence Police Department, trains Aug. 13. by Richard Gwin

I was pretty impressed with what I saw, as the most my pup can do is “sit pretty” on command. But one man who met one of the patrol service dogs last week was probably less than excited about the K-9 unit’s tricks.

Thursday, 6:49 p.m.

A police officer on patrol sees a man – 47-year-old Russell Dean Baston – with an active warrant out for his arrest inside a truck near the intersection of Fifth and North streets, Lawrence police spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said.

Baston Russell

Baston Russell by Caitlin Doornbos

The officer looks on as Baston stops at a residence on the north side of North Street, which is just a few feet outside city limits.

Baston has a history of violence — and of eluding law enforcement — so the officer calls for back up, McKinley said. Journal-World articles dating back to the 1990s detail Baston’s past, including a 1996 Douglas County Jail escape when he overpowered a corrections officer and a 2012 standoff with authorities he tried to flee in Jefferson County.

The officer and others responding wait outside and watch the home as more backup arrives – including Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies and an LPD patrol service dog.

As the units roll in, Baston takes notice allegedly books it out of the residence and heads northeast onto a “large, overgrown plat of property containing various sheds, brush, threes and swamp-like areas,” McKinley said.

Law enforcement repeatedly holler “Stop!”

After Baston reportedly fails to comply, the dog handler releases the dog, which chases Baston. The dog catches Baston in a swampy area, McKinley said, biting Baston in the buttock and hand as he allegedly fought to get away.

As the officers catch up to the two, the dog is recalled. Baston allegedly starts to fight officers in an apparent effort to escape. He allegedly has a large knife “described as a smaller machete-type weapon” with him during the confrontation.

After a brief struggle, officers handcuff the suspect, lead him out of the water and confiscate the knife. Baston is taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with minor injuries “as a result of fighting with the service dog and officers,” McKinley said.

The swampy area apparently was pretty messy. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office posted this photo to its page Friday of a deputy with a dirtied uniform after “assisting on arresting a subject with a warrant” in a “thick, marshy area” Thursday, the post read. I can only assume it's in reference to the Baston ordeal.

As the officers round up the investigation, they find a 1995 Ford Bronco, allegedly stolen from a North Lawrence business Aug. 13, McKinley said. The Bronco’s wheels had apparently been removed and placed on another vehicle at the home, McKinley said.

They also find and seize suspected methamphetamine, a flare gun and several knives during the investigation, McKinley said.

After being treated at the hospital, Baston was jailed on suspicion of two counts of obstruction, two counts of possessing stolen property, one count of theft, six counts of drug possession-related crimes, two counts of criminal possession of a firearm, plus a Kansas Department of Corrections hold.

According to KDOC records, Baston has previous convictions ranging from aggravated robbery and burglary to obstruction and aggravated escape from custody. He’s also currently on parole.

Thursday, 8 p.m.

The story of the Baston ordeal continues.

Remember that allegedly stolen Ford Bronco? So, its owner shows up at the North Street residence where it was left. He tries to confront people nearby about possibly being involved or knowing something about Baston.

A short physical fight ensues, but when someone tells him police have been called, he leaves. Responding officers are able to find him, though, and give him a notice to appear in court on suspicion of battery.

Thursday, 8:01 p.m.

Lawrence police respond to a report of a teenager running from a family member, screaming for help.

Upon arrival, the boy tells police that he’d been battered by the relative after an argument about the boy drinking a can of soda the suspect had purchased, McKinley said.

The family member confronted the teenager earlier that day, allegedly slapping the boy in the face while arguing with him, McKinley said. The family member told police that after that confrontation he spanked the teen – but the victim said he was actually pushed to the floor, then punched and kicked.

The boy also alleged that the family member hit him the arm with an object, “possibly a metal bat or similar object,” McKinley said.

Later that evening, the family member allegedly asked the victim to go to a friend’s house, so the teenager got in a vehicle with the suspect to be taken to a nearby residence, McKinley said.

When the vehicle stops at its destination, the boy jumps out. That’s when he starts running and calling for help. The family member allegedly chases after the teenager, but falls and hurts himself.

Police arrive, arrest the man and book him into the Douglas County Jail on suspicion of aggravated battery and child abuse.

If you don't mind, I'm going to take a break today from tallying the police calls from the weekend. It was a very active weekend, as the call log is 21 pages long today in comparison with the average 10 to 12. I'll have them for you tomorrow, though, as well as a roundup of highlights.

Reply 5 comments from Charles L. Bloss, Jr. Elston Gunn Steven Berger Bob Smith Thesychophant

Law enforcement training involves pepper spray to face, underwater diving; weekend arrest list; 911 call roundup

It takes a lot of work to be trusted with the responsibility of our community’s safety.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has recently been sharing photos of just how tough soon-to-be law enforcement officers have to be to earn their badges.

On July 16, the sheriff’s office posted these impressive yet cringe-worthy photos of recruits taking a squirt of pepper spray to the face. Not only did the recruits have to withstand the awful sensation, but they also had to practice drills like making an arrest while fighting through the burn.

The sheriff’s office wrote that the effects of pepper spray, a.k.a. Oleoresin Capsicum, “are not lasting and wear off after several minutes.” The sheriff’s office also posted these photos of recruits cooling their faces.

Sheriff’s deputies and Lawrence police took part in a joint training last week with the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Team and Douglas County Detectives.

The Underwater Search and Recovery Team is made up of both sheriff’s deputies and police officers who work together whenever possible evidence or other things may need to be retrieved from bodies of water, according to the sheriff’s office.

As you might’ve guessed, the training got a little wet, judging from sheriff’s office photos. I’m not sure where the exercise took place, but the sheriff’s office wrote that it was at an “area lake.” Officers are seen donning life jackets and wet suits.

The sheriff’s office wrote that this underwater search and recovery drill is one of many trainings “year round and in all types of weather.”

Imagine deep diving into a frozen lake. Brrr!

As per usual, there were quite a few people arrested over the weekend. I'm going to list a snapshot of different categories of arrests here, but if you'd like to see more details, you can check out the Douglas County Jail's booking log here:

Between Friday and Monday mornings:

  • 21 people were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

  • Four people were arrested on suspicion of drug-related crimes

  • One person was arrested on suspicion of criminal threat.

  • 18 people were arrested on suspicion of failing to appear for a court date.

  • One person was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery.

  • Two people were arrested on suspicion of battery.

And now for our daily roundup of police calls. I'm starting to notice the number of calls picking up, which I'm guessing has to do with students trickling back into town. That's not necessarily because they're up to no good, but likely just because of the sheer bump in population. Whatever it is, I expect the increase to continue as apartment leases expire Friday and a crop of new tenants move in next week.

As always, I’ll remind you that this is a list of noteworthy calls I pulled from the Lawrence Police Department call log. Not all calls yielded police reports, and many may have gone unsubstantiated. The list is meant to give you an idea of what kinds of calls police are responding to within a given time period.

This list is a collection of calls that police responded to between Friday afternoon and Monday morning:


  • Disturbance (verbal or physical arguments): 12

  • Domestic disturbance: 8

  • Battery: 2

  • Fight in progress: 2

  • Shooting: 1


  • Noninjury accident: 22

  • Injury accident: 3


  • Medical: 12

  • Suicide threat: 3

  • Alcohol poisoning: 1

Person crimes

  • Harassment: 5

  • Sex Crime: 2

  • Prowler: 1


  • Suspicious activity: 7

  • Suspicious activity with weapons: 2

  • Noise/Nuisance: 15

  • Sound of gunshots fired: 3

  • Runaway: 2


  • Drug Activity: 1

Property crimes

  • Burglary: 8

  • Stolen vehicle: 2

  • Criminal damage: 7

  • Auto burglary: 3

  • Theft: 15

  • Trespassing: 8

Reply 14 comments from Lawrence Freeman Notwhatyouthink2 Caitlin Doornbos Chic Charles L. Bloss, Jr. Tom Thomson Thomas Moore

Suspected vodka thief flees police in a cornfield

The petty theft of a bottle of vodka led to a police pursuit and a suspect’s successful getaway into a cornfield Monday night, police say.

According to Sgt. Trent McKinley, Lawrence Police Department spokesman, it happened this way: Just before 9 p.m. Monday, officers responded to a report from On the Rocks Liquor, 1818 Massachusetts St., that a man had stolen a $60 bottle of Belvedere Red Vodka.

Employees gave a description and license number of the man’s getaway car, which was registered to someone living outside of Lawrence, McKinley said. Officers then went with Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies to find the suspected thief outside city limits.

At some point officers determined that they would not find the suspect, so they headed back toward Lawrence. On the drive back, an officer passed the vehicle they had been looking for just east of town in the 1600 block of North 1500 Road. The officer turned around to pursue the vehicle.

The officer found the car stopped in the roadway close to railroad tracks with the passenger-side door open and a female driver inside. McKinley said the suspected man had gotten out of the car and run into a cornfield, successfully fleeing police.

The stolen vodka was found in the vehicle partially consumed, McKinley said.

The driver, 21-year-old Cherlynn Nicole Rachel, of Lawrence, was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant, according to the Douglas County Jail’s booking log.

Though officers did not find the suspect, McKinley said he was identified and is a person who has four active warrants in Douglas County. McKinley could not release the suspect’s name as a theft suspect because he has not been arrested or charged in the case.