The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office sees an increase in calls in 2012.
According to the office’s annual report released recently, the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office saw 21,791 calls for service in 2012, up from 20,582 in 2011.
Sheriff Randy Shirley said that is a very high number for a department of the size of Stephens County to deal with.
“The calls for service is astronomical when you have 16 deputies divided in 3 shifts in four zones,” said Shirley.
In addition to the increase in the calls for service, 628 cases were assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division in 2012, an increase of more than 200 cases from 2011.
Shirley said one area where the Sheriff’s Office saw a particularly large jump was in reported burglaries. There were 630 burglaries in 2012, compared to 420 in 2011.
The sheriff said the increase in burglary is not unique to Stephens County.
“There are folks in this county without jobs and we are still seeing folks that have not been in trouble with law enforcement before in their life as first-time offenders,” said Shirley.
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office did increase the number of cases cleared by the Investigations Division by about 100 from 2011 to 2012, increasing that figure from 222 to 320.
In addition, the Sheriff’s Office cleared 1,000 more calls for service overall in 2012 than it did in 2011.
In particular, Shirley said that the Sheriff’s Office had a lot of successes on the drug investigation front last year.
“We had a really good last year with the NCIS (Drug Team),” said Shirley.
He pointed to the bust of numerous locations selling synthetic marijuana as one successful operation. He also pointed to the NCIS “Ides of March” operation in March of 2012 as a success, with 23 arrests in Stephens County after a year-long investigation into criminal drug activity.
Also last year, Shirley said his office formed the new DELTA Unit. DELTA stands for Dynamic Emergency Logistics and Tactical Assault.
According to the sheriff, other successes include the set-up of a crime scene unit and assisting the Accountability Court
Moving forward to 2013, Shirley said one challenge he foresees is the implementation of House Bill 1176, which reduce prison terms and thresholds for non-violent offenses. According to Shirley, some offenses once considered a felony will now be a misdemeanor.
He said that will have an effect on the jail population.
“The downside of that is we are going to see more people in our county jail,” said Shirley. “We have to feed them, provide them medical (care). It just increases the workload.”
Overall, Shirley said the budget and financial issues will be ongoing in the year ahead.
“We are faced with those economic challenges that force us to do more with less and I want the people in Stephens County to be assured that we will continue to emphasize fiscal responsibility despite the fact that we are experiencing these high fuel costs, repair and utility costs, the aging equipment, and reductions in several areas of our operating budget from the county,” said Shirley.
Shirley says his first term in office was both challenging and rewarding and he looks forward to his second term.