Sheriff Al Barberis

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Sheriff Al Barberis - Idaho Free Press 4 Caldwel] News-Tribune...
Idaho Free Press 4 Caldwel] News-Tribune Thursday, September 28, 1967- More Than Square Mi.le_PerJPers_on_ ·AC Owyhee Sheriff Has Big Territory By DICK JOHNSON' MURPHY- There's a saying that the people who live in Owyhee County are real friendly because they'd be darned lonesome il they weren't, Owyhee County, the second largest county in Idaho, covers 7,639 square miles, more than the state of New Jersey, but according to the 13GO census, only 6,375 persons live in il. Murphy, population about 80, had better not be called a wide place in the road, el I her, because the road doesn't get any wider there. Murphy isn't the only town in Owyhee County, but it's the county seat, and, as such, is the hub of county government. The man who shoulders Hie responsibility of law and order in a county that still retains the spirit of the Oregon Trail is Sheriil Al Barberis. lie has been sheriff since 1959 and prior to that year he served as a deputy. Barberis has one full-time deputy, Chuck Jurries, and, he adds with a chuckle "one unpaid deputy-my wile." The sheriff's office, located at the end of a corridor of the courthouse, contains the usual files, desks and two-way radio. Barberis also has a two-way radio in his home in addition to an intercom system con- necting his residence to Ms office. Owyhee County is aji old-west combination of ranches, sagebrush and mountains. To ride the range Barberis and Jurries have two patrol cars and a jeep. Additional mobile equipment is a boat. The sheriff has thought about buying an airplane for quick access to the r ar regions of his territory, but (lie county hasn't been convinced from the standpoint of funds. Airplanes have been used by (tie sheriff in searches for lost hunters. Can be fly a plane? He quallfiedhis answer by saying he'd have trouble when il came to landing and taking off. COUMY HOUSK Four years ago, he recalls, there were 14 lost huntersinthe county, but Hie deer population has gone down and last year there were only four lost hunters. From the standpoint of patrolling the county, Barberishas no particular schedule. This would be impossible because of the vast area. The longest time he was away from the county seat was 96 hours during a hunting sea* son looking for lost hunters. One was found riglit away. The hunter built a camp fire against a tree and the tree caught fire. Thus guided by the unintentionally lighted beacon, Barberis was able lomateabee-linetofhe bewildered nimrod. But96hours without sleep can be :· Barberis has a pretty good batting average on finding lost hunters. He estimates that he personally has found about 50 per cent. Mountain search and rescue teams and a 23-inm mounted posse are also called in on the annual lost hunter searches, The hospitality of the Owyhee County ranchers is a great help to the area, but many 'imss the rancher is repaid by vandalism. The western "line shacks' maintained by ranchers are to the cold and weary cowboy what hotels and motels are to tourists. Cowboys worth their salt know the portion of lie code of the West that says in effect, "Welcome stranger. Make yourself at home, but please don't damage any property. 1 ' Barberis says that in some instances, people whodon'tkno» the range and who can't lay claim to being cowboys enter the shacks and destroy property. Such instances occupy much of his time in the investigation of criminal acts. Owyhee County has its share of other types of crimes. Barberis consulted his files and figured he averages about45 adult arrests per year, not counting traffic citations. This he adds to about 20 juvenile apprehensions yearly, not to mention a goodly share of traffic accidents--about 100 a year. Much of the work of being sheriff is routine-- such as driving 309 miles over back roan's to serve a summons. Then, sometimes it isn't so routine and enough to get a man's dander up-like the time Barberis and Deputy Jurries were looking for i lost hunter on Jumper Mountain-some 99 miles away from Murphy-on l cold and snowy morning--3 a.m. to be enact. Looking for the lost hunter wasn't what rnwte them angry. "We came to a hunter camp. People were there. We could smell the coffee and bacon. They didn't offer us a cup of coffee or anything- we felt like tearing the camp down," Barberis said. For the most part, however, Barberis says he likes people and enjoys working with them. "Murphy to the stranger is a big, beautiful lawn with a nice courthouse," says Barberis. The lawn and courthouse aren't all the town is noted for. Right smack in front of the courthouse is a parking meter--the only one in those parts. It was put there several years ago as a gag, but a lot of people (ion't know that and they put money in it. The sheriff empties the meter whenever he thinks about it. He walked to the meter, selected a key and opened the coin box. Fifty-three cents tumbled out. "Not bad, he mused. WITH OWYHEE COUNTY being roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, much of thebusi- ness of law enforcement depends on the use of radio. Sheriff Al Barberis is shown sending a message by way of the radio in his patrol car. (Staff photo)

Clipped from
  1. Idaho Free Press,
  2. 28 Sep 1967, Thu,
  3. Page 20

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