By Wayne Gates –
The Brown County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call every 24 minutes on average in 2017.
Chief Deputy Chris Hodges said that the BCSO received 21,963 calls for service last year. Those calls generated 10,919 offense and incident reports, which means that charges were filed or further investigation was required.
Regarding specific types of crime, Hodges said that there were 480 domestic disturbance incidents, 353 theft calls and 290 burglaries. There were also 93 calls regarding drug activity and 87 drug overdose investigations.
BCSO deputies also served 639 arrest warrants in 2017.
Hodges said that the numbers also showed some trends.
“Auto thefts were up towards the end of last year, heroin overdoses were down and methamphetamine use and methamphetamine related calls were up,” he said.
“We also saw an uptick in pursuits towards the end of last year. We have had six in the last three months, while only having three in the year prior to that period of time.”
Hodges said that increased use of methamphetamine is causing different problems for law enforcement than heroin use.
“People are prone to more effectic behavior when they are on crystal meth and their thought process is inhibited. We definitely think that those are big contributors to the number of pursuits that we had towards the end of last year,” he said.
“Multiple suspects were impaired on crystal methamphetamine and there was also crystal methamphetamine found in the vehicles.”
Hodges said that meth is increasing the danger to deputies in the field.
“We’ve had more violent calls and more violent encounters. There was a call where a person that was hallucinating was firing rounds inside of a house where there were people inside. We were able to talk him out of the residence, but he was hallucinating and thought people were after him inside the residence.”
Hodges said that the Brown County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force has been focusing on the trafficking of Ice in the county.
He added that heroin use is still an issue in the county.
“Heroin overdoses for 2018 have been down so far. We had one week in March between the 11th and the 18th where we ended up with three suspected overdose deaths. We are still waiting for the autopsy results on that.”
Hodges said that the decrease in heroin overdoses is due in part to the work that the drug task force is doing to take down the major heroin traffickers in the county.
Based on the workload, Hodges said that the BCSO is moving to deal with the increases in various crimes.
“We have increased our investigation staff to try to deal with the uptick in auto and home thefts,” he said.
“We also have a new full-time investigator that’s assigned to handle juvenile sex crimes. They work in conjunction with Child Protective Services to make sure those resources are available to people as soon as a call comes in. That makes us more effective in the investigation and arrest of those kind of suspects.”
Hodges said that the BCSO is working to get to calls quicker as well.
“We put a new officer on that works a split rotation where he works both day shift and night shift. We also added a new road patrol lieutenant which adds additional manpower during the day. It is decreasing our response time to the public, which is our ultimate goal. We don’t want anyone calling us and having to wait an hour for a deputy.”
Deputies are also working to keep local schools safe.
“If they are not obligated to other calls at the time, deputies will go to the schools and do walkthroughs at the schools and be visible. They also will do patrols nearby during dropoff and pickup times to add an extra layer of security at the schools,” Hodges said.
One way that technology is helping the BCSO is the new computersin the road units.
“The mobile data terminals that we added are giving the deputies real time information and background while they are on calls, which allows them to be more efficient and safer,” Hodges said.
“The system that we have is completely integrated into the communications center so dispatchers can send them suspect descriptions and real-time updates on the call they are responding to. Officers can also download BMV photos and criminal histories so they know who they are dealing with on a call.”
Hodges said one other factor is improving the safety of Brown County residents.
“One of the things I’m very proud of is the relationship building that has gone on between the village police departments and the sheriff’s office,” he said.
“Our mutual aid agreement with the villages has allowed us to be a lot more effective and it has increased the services available to the citizens.”