A jail transport van stationed on Horseshoe Bend during holiday weekend nights will hold detainees until they can be transported back by a jailer, eliminating the need to take deputies out of service for nearly an hour and a half to do so.

It’s Labor Day weekend, and it looks like the Camden County Sheriff’s Office will be out in force to try to wrangle potentially rowdy crowds in the Bittersweet Road area with help from an old-fashioned paddy wagon this time.

That is to say, a jail transport van will more than likely be used to more efficiently patrol and detain people who are causing a problem in that area of Horseshoe Bend.

The idea, according to Sgt. Jim Elkin, is to free up more time for deputies patrolling the area to be on site, rather than transporting each detainee individually to the Camden County Adult Detention Center in Camdenton.

Elkin is the supervisor of the CCSO’s Horseshoe Bend station.

A jail transport van stationed on Horseshoe Bend during holiday weekend nights will hold detainees until they can be transported back by a jailer, eliminating the need to take deputies out of service for nearly an hour and a half to do so.

Sheriff Tony Helms first mentioned the possibility of a “paddy wagon,” as he put it, at a Village of Four Seasons Board of Trustees meeting after the Independence Day holiday weekend.

The Village board contracts with the sheriff’s office to provide law enforcement within the Village.

While the two large bars off Bittersweet are outside the Village limits, large crowds leaving the lakefront entertainment venues mainly around closing time can impact Village residents nearby and can also be a public safety hazard to each other and farther down the road. The waterfront establishments are just outside Village limits in unincorporated Camden County.

Helms and members of the command staff were out in the Bittersweet are over the Independence Day weekend to help patrol and see for themselves the crowds and issues that many residents in the area have described.

The Lake Sun has itself taken later reports and has seen issues with walking in the roadway and through private yards; people passed out, fighting and general disorderly conduct - to name just a few incidents.

On the Sunday night of the Independence Day weekend, there were at least seven arrested for DWI in this area on top of the other calls deputies were handling that night, according to Elkin. Overall, about 16 were taken to jail from the Horseshoe Bend zone in one night.

It should be noted that the number of DWIs does not include arrests made by Missouri State Troopers that night in the area as they also have officers patrolling the Lake area.

That Sunday, July 2, there more than 12 deputies on duty on Horseshoe Bend to try to maintain order, according to Elkin. Some ran calls for service, some traffic and others were on foot. The sheriff’s office otherwise has six deputies assigned to the Horseshoe Bend area full-time with two or three on duty at a time. To cover the additional officers on patrol, the sheriff’s office paid overtime and utilized reserve volunteer officers as they could.

It’s hard to get a true number on how busy deputies are during these times, Elkin explained, because many incidents are not logged through dispatch, involving an officer on foot patrol breaking up a fight for example, and may not include an arrest.

Elkin was happy to have Helms and the command staff come walk the beat with the Horseshoe Bend division to see what they have to deal with.

The sheriff’s office has a few times used a jail transport van in the past in this area, but has not done so in some time, according to Elkin.

Holiday weekends are among the busiest times for law enforcement in this area, he said, and so the jail transport van will likely only be used going forward on holiday weekends.

“We just deal with it on a call-by-call basis. Our normal practice now on a normal weekend is at closing time to try to be down in that area near Bittersweet and Sweet William to try to stop anything before it starts - fights or arguments. Having a presence down there can defuse things before they start,” commented Elkin. “It’s definitely busier than it used to be, but any given weekend, we can deal with it. It’s the holiday weekends where we beef up staffing due to the increase in volume of people.”

Lake Media reporters Dan Field and Cody Mroczka contributed to this story.