Carson City deputies head to Katrina relief | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City deputies head to Katrina relief

Becky Bosshart
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Carson City Undersheriff Steve Albertson, from left clockwise, deputies Cody Della Bitta, Jose, Gomez, Don Gibson and Dan Ochsenschlager, sit in the trailer they will be living in before their departure to the Gulf Coast.

After fleeing the devastation wrought by mother nature, Gulf Coast residents are confronted with another terror – perverted human nature. Five Carson City deputies will join the law enforcement effort in the ravaged areas, standing between the innocent and mob violence, the pillaging, raping and terror.

Deputy Dan Ochsenschlager, 37, lifted a case of bottled water into the 22-foot long Fleetwood Pioneer trailer hitched to a Suburban. He and four other officers will call the trailer home for the two weeks that they are deployed in the Gulf Coast. But it could take longer, no one knows for sure. Until now this trailer has been used for local events, such as the Nevada Day Parade.

“I called and volunteered and at 6 p.m. last night I was here starting to get this thing packed,” Ochsenschlager said Saturday evening before departure.

Sheriff Kenny Furlong said this team “came running” when he announced that Carson City would send four deputies with Undersheriff Steve Albertsen to the hurricane relief effort.

“This is unique in that we’ve never deployed law enforcement officers to an area all the way across the country to perform law enforcement in that state,” Furlong said. “Because of that, the (officers) going are considered the most reliable officers, representative of the department.”

Although that’s an honor, it’s not much comfort to Robin Sharp, the fiancee of Deputy Ochsenschlager.

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She helped him load the trailer, but every so often she wrapped her freckled arms around his waist. The two will marry on Memorial Day. Sharp said after he leaves she’ll probably cry. Friends have promised to distract her while he’s gone.

“I know it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but I’m still upset,” she said. “I know that’s kind of selfish.”

The deputies had 10 cases of bottled water, Gatorade, a water tank, a generator, an extra tank of propane and a Play Station loaded into the department’s emergency response trailer. The milk and cheese was packed inside the trailer’s refrigerator.

The atmosphere around the small trailer was jovial before it departed Carson City Saturday night for Las Vegas. Today the team will meet with 95 other state law enforcement officers and then start the caravan to Jackson, Miss.

“We’ll get orders from there of where we’re going to go next,” said Deputy Don Gibson, 29.

He hadn’t yet told his 4-year-old son, Dylan, that he was going. Gibson canceled his vacation – a cruise with two other deputies to Ensenada – to join Carson City’s emergency response team. He’s also a SWAT team member, along with Deputy Cody DellaBitta, 29, another member of the team.

“If we can go help out other countries we can help out our own,” he said.

Deputy Jose Gomez, 31, said this is why he went into law enforcement.

“To be able to help – I don’t even know how to say it -it’s beyond words,” Gomez said.

Undersheriff Albertsen said he received a message on Thursday from the National Sheriff’s Organization asking for officers and equipment to join the relief effort. He’s heard that the Department of Public Safety, Reno Police Department, Nye County and Las Vegas Metro are also sending officers. The officers must be fully self-sustaining for two weeks and outfitted for patrol. Mississippi requested 100 officers from each state.

Albertsen said they’re bringing tactical gear, side arms, shotguns and long rifles. The trailer’s bathroom was full of the bottled water. Long Igloo coolers were stored in front of the trailers sink and stove.

Carson City will not be left short-staffed because of the deployment, Furlong said. Shifts left open will be covered by the city’s 90 other deputies. Two other deputies, Kate Summers and Wayne Wheeler, are also deployed with the National Guard to the Gulf Coast.

Most of the equipment being taken to Mississippi was purchased by Carson City with Homeland Security funding, Furlong said. That includes the $15,000 trailer, the weaponry and all the personal protective gear.

“Each officer is leaving with all of the gear that’s required of a SWAT team member,” he said. “But the most critical item right now is individual sanitation. They’ll be living out of this vehicle here and they can’t expect any water, fuel or food while there.”

Four Carson City firefighters are also awaiting orders to be deployed to help with the recovery effort.

— Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.