Wrecker drivers and Sherrif's Department at odds over tow policies

A workshop for the Ouachita County Detention Center jail subcommittee of the Ouachita County Quorum court was full of high emotions, as tow truck drivers and the Sheriff's Department equally expressed displeasure at each other.

Paul Burnett Director of the Arkansas towing and Recovery Board attended the workshop.

Sheriff David Norwood stated, " The reason I've asked to have this meeting is because over the past couple of years the Sheriff's Office is basically being called thieves by these wrecker services , we get hung up on when we call to try to get information from these wreckers and I'm not going to tolerate it no more."

Norwood stated that he feels that some of the prices for towing have been to high and that he took the 'on call' list for available wrecker services off the Sheriff's website, because it was causing problems.

Wesley Carter, of OTM Wrecker services said, " I had a consent tow, an 18 wheeler in the ditch hanging out on the white fog line probably about four feet at the Airport and loaded with Roll paper. I get out there me and Brad go out there talk to the guy with it in the ditch. And he asked what it was going to cost and I told him a thousand dollars 500 call out on the large wrecker, five hundred dollar on the wench, which I thought was fair. We get him out of the ditch. We're hooked to it and he refuses to pay the bill."

Carter said the drive then called 911 and the when deputies arrived Sheriff Norwood told them to arrest him.

Norwood clarified that he said Carter would be arrested for kidnapping if he towed the vehicle with the driver in it.

County Judge Robert McAdoo stated " We're here to talk about the policy We're not here to go at each other. We're here because we got a problem. And between the towing services and this committee we got to come up with solution.

A driver asked if a 25 year old felony would keep him off the list, as documents provided that night of an updated wrecker policy stated that a driver could not be a convicted felon.

Norwood, after consulting with Paul Burnett

"In my opinion you can you can tow. I won't cut you. That was just a thing I though was part of the towing board's policies, It's not...so you're fine.." Norwood stated.

McAdoo had to restore order at one point when Paul and Henry Kelly alleged that a deputy driving a wrecker was a conflict of interest.

McAdoo stated that, "If he's off duty, it's not"

Paul Kelly continued to press the issue and Chief Deputy TJ Roberston interjected and stood up asking, "Are you guys talking about me?"

Kelly, who also rose from his seat, replied, "I ain't talking about you, I'm talking cause I want to talk,".

McAdoo then used his gavel several times, but after the meeting was over Kelley refused to talk to Robertson as the deputy was addressing him,

A second meeting will take place March 5, between the committee and wrecker owners.

photo by Bradly Gill
Wrecker owners sit at the workshop.


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