The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on September 30, 1996 · Page 15
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 15

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, September 30, 1996
Page 15
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Prisoners' taxi service Ex-sheriff Al Naes works part-time as a driver for the sheriff's office By SHARON MONTAGUE The Salina Journal There's the trip home fr,om Los Angeles with the teen-aged runaways coiled in the back seat like snakes. Then there's the famous trip back from Washington state, when the tracto-trailer rig pushed the Saline County Jail van through a snowstorm. When former Saline County Sheriff Al Naes starts talking about his part-time job, he can relate story after story of his life on the road. For the past several years Naes, who was sheriff from 1976 through 1985, has worked part-time for the sheriff's office, picking up prisoners from out of state and bringing them to Saline County to face charges. The sheriffs office hires several part- timers for the work to free up full-time deputies and corrections officers for other duties, Sheriff Darrell Wilson said. "It's a good program," Wilson said. "It allows us to do things we wouldn't be able to do otherwise." The part-timers receive no benefits and are paid considerably less than deputies, Naes said. "I'd do it for free," he said. "I don't do it for the money. I do it to'keep busy, and it helps them out." After retiring from the sheriffs office, Naes worked for a time at Salina's Masonic Temple. As overcrowding in the Saline County Jail became more and more serious, Naes said Wilson asked him to return to work for the county part-time. Naes began working with the county attorney's office and the judges to hurry up the paperwork required before inmates sentenced to prison could be sent there. Later he began serving warrants for the sheriffs office, going out-of-state to pick up people wanted here and arrested elsewhere. Thirteen times in May he logged out-of-state trips, he said. One day a week, Naes drives prisoners between Wichita and Salina for the U.S. Marshal Service, which leases bed space in the Saline County Jail. And he takes inmates to the City-County Building for court hearings, to the dentist, to the doctor and anywhere else they need to go. "I do anything they need me to do to help them out," Naes said. But it's the out-of-town trips that generate the most fodder for storytelling time. DAVIS TURNER / The Salina Journal Al Naes, 542 Seitz Dr., works part-time as a driver for the Saline County Sheriff's Office. The former sheriff transfers prisoners from state to state. "I do anything they need me to do to help them out," Naes said of the sheriff's office. Like the story about the Salina teenagers, who stole credit cards from the boy's parents and ran away to Los Angeles. On the way back with the fleeing felons, Naes and his wife, Nancy, sat in the front seat, while the teens were in the back. Leaving the teens alone in the back turned out to be a mistake. "We couldn't keep them apart," he said. "They'd coil up like snakes if you'd let them." Then there was the trip back from Washington, where Naes and a retired corrections officer had picked up a man wanted on a Saline County warrant. Naes was driving through a blizzard in Utah when he realized his gas tank was nearly empty. He pulled off the highway and drove two miles to a small town, only to find the only gas station was closed. Naes stopped at a rest area and solicited the aid of a truck driver, who agreed to fol- low him the 21 miles to the next station. Three miles later, the car was out of gas, and the trucker ended up using his semi to push the Saline County Jail van the next 18 miles. "People were on their CBs, commenting on the trucker's hood ornament," Naes quipped. Other trips aren't so exciting or memorable. Naes said some prisoners remain silent the whole time they're with him, while others tell him about their lives and about how they're going to reform this time. Naes just nods and drives on. "It doesn't last too long before you've exhausted the topics of conversation, then you just turn up the radio and drive," he said. He doesn't tarry on the road — it's the Golden Arches at mealtime for both him and the prisoners, and no sightseeing. At night, he stops at a local jail and checks the prisoner in, then crashes at a motel. In the morning, it's breakfast on the road after a stop at the nearest drive-thru. When on a plane, Naes and his prisoner board first and leave the plane last, and there are no trips to the bathroom while enroute. "The U.S. Marshal Service had a prisoner once who locked himself in a bathroom on a plane for three hours and caused all kinds of trouble," Naes said. "I just don't let them go." At 73, Naes has been in the law enforcement business for 20 years, since retiring as chief master sergeant at Schilling Air Force Base. "I was undersheriff under three sheriffs," he said. So when will Naes hang up his gun belt for good? Possibly never. "You need to do something," he said. "You can only play so much golf."

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