Coming up with a way to make things easier and more efficient for Statesboro police officers and then doing an outstanding job of handling that task is why Advanced Patrol Officer Larry Futch was named the 2018 Statesboro Police Officer of the Year.
The 17-year veteran came up with a single solution to several problems the department was dealing with: trying to juggle a limited police force, working patrol and investigating crimes, and having to deal with the “little things” such as attending court, serving warrants, handling tours of the department and making school visits.
Called the “sweeper” position, Futch’s suggestion was to have one day-shift officer assigned to handle “outside normal call responsibilities,” said Statesboro police Chief Mike Broadhead.
“We get asked to do a lot of things that require resources, like daily appearances of recent arrestees in front of the magistrate judge, escorts for City Hall money deposits, bailiff duty for the municipal judge, et cetera,” he said. “Larry had the idea that if one person were assigned the sweeper's duties full time, they could take that responsibility away from patrol sergeants who are trying to manage all these competing daily tasks and get officers responding to calls for service and handling criminal investigations.”
Futch, who has worked for the department since 2001, graduated from Georgia Southern University with a justice studies degree and has learned even more about law enforcement during his years of service.
When faced with the issue of on-duty officers being pulled from the streets and off-duty officers being called in to handle things such as first appearance hearings, special events, serving warrants and other non-patrol of crime-related calls, he suggested employing one full-time day-shift officer to handle all the “extra” tasks, he said.
Then, he accepted the position.
When he isn’t handling tours of the department, school visits, reading to students or attending magistrate and other court hearings, Futch is “an extra patrol officer,” he said. “I thought it was needed, with officers coming in on their off days to do those things or making shifts short-handed” if an on-duty officer handled them.
“We implemented Larry's idea in July 2017 and he was assigned to that role,” Broadhead said. “Since then he has proven the efficacy of the idea, and he is working hard to make sure that everyone else feels the relief he is providing by freeing up the day-shift officers to handle patrol duties instead of being pulled all these directions for jobs that are not really patrol officer oriented.”
Futch’s idea really helped make things run smoother in magistrate court, he said.
“Additionally, having a single person conducting the daily magistrate court appearances has ensured that we are doing that job efficiently, rather than 10 different patrol officers trying to rotate the duty and none of them ever being very efficient at it,” he said. “In fact, the magistrate judges met with me last June to complain that first appearances were not being handled efficiently because we were rotating different patrol officers through that job. That was creating stress for them, and having Larry in that role has made their lives easier, and we are making sure that individual defendants are getting their appearances handled efficiently.”
Futch also “has recognized that his role can be used in many ways to help lessen the burden on day-shift patrol officers,” Broadhead said. “When he is not busy on the sweeper duties, he is taking reports at the front desk, as well as transporting prisoners from out of town that usually requires pulling an officer off the street to complete.”
Futch said he likes the position because it provides “opportunities to do stuff I like doing,” such as reading to school children and eating lunch with them, and interacting with the public on a positive level. The position is more in line with community-oriented policing and public relations, he said.
“Basically, Larry was recognized as the Officer of the Year because he showed great initiative in finding a solution to a problem, and then proving the solution was the correct one by working hard,” Broadhead said.
Futch, a Southeast Bulloch High School graduate, is married to wife Cathy. The history and science fiction fan met his wife when he worked at Food Lion before he started with the Statesboro police, and to this day, many citizens “still call me Officer Food Lion,” he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.