Cass County Board: A year in review for the Cass County sheriff

BACKUS--Chief Deputy Erick Hoglund presented highlights of Sheriff Tom Burch's annual report to the county board Feb. 19. The sheriff's office dispatches for all police, fire, ambulance and first response services within the county in addition to...

Brainerd Dispatch file photo

BACKUS-Chief Deputy Erick Hoglund presented highlights of Sheriff Tom Burch's annual report to the county board Feb. 19.

The sheriff's office dispatches for all police, fire, ambulance and first response services within the county in addition to the sheriff's office, except for an exception on Leech Lake Reservation, which dispatches its police officers.

Under Burch and Hoglund, the sheriff's staff includes three lieutenants, three sergeants, four investigators, 21 patrol deputies, three recreational deputies, one civil process deputy, one welfare fraud deputy, 12 correctional officers, two transport officers, one Sentence to Service crew leader, two bailiffs, 11 dispatchers, an emergency management director, five records staff and an administrative assistant.

Cass County dispatchers filed 20,859 initial complaint reports for all emergency services in 2018, down 1,613 from the 22,472 filed in 2017. Hoglund said this is despite the fact traffic and tourism were up in 2018.

Weekends generate the highest number of calls in most months, but Fridays brought the highest number of calls in May and August and Mondays were the peak day in January. Tuesday was the peak in October.


About 90 percent of people calling the sheriff's department now use their cellphone rather than a landline.

The sheriff's department had 1,129 active warrants for arrest in 2018, with 920 warrants cleared. Of the active warrants, 511 were felony charges, 255 were gross misdemeanors and 363 were misdemeanors.

The office issued 318 permits to buy a gun and 395 permits to carry in 2018. Those had peaked in 2012 with 507 permits to purchase and in 2016 with 722 permits to carry.

The highest number of calls for service in cities was for Cass Lake (1,925), followed by Pine River (1,643), Lake Shore (1,463), Walker (1,430) and Pillager (529). The highest number for townships was in Pike Bay (2,076), followed by Shingobee (1,171), Turtle Lake (869), Sylvan (772) and Pine River (453).

Cass County had 198 reports of serious crimes filed in 2018. Of those, 29 were for first-, second- or third-degree assault; three were homicides; four were for criminal vehicular operation; two were for kidnapping; and 45 were for first-, second- or third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

By far, the highest number of calls came for medical services (3,461). Alarms the officials responded to included 611 from residences, 397 from businesses, 107 medical alarms, 87 fire alarms and 24 for carbon monoxide detectors. There were 414 requests for authorities to attempt to locate someone. People filed 95 reports of abandoned vehicles. There were 505 reports regarding animals. These ranged from neglect/abuse to injured, dangerous, lost/found, bites and barking dogs.

There were 12 boating crashes, one of which involved injuries and one involved a fatality. Twenty people filed complaints about boats and 45 other boat-related cases were filed. One dirt bike crash resulted in injuries. Two dirt bike complaints were filed. Of the 12 all-terrain vehicle crashes, 11 had injuries. Officers issued five warning/citations, received 34 ATV complaints and had 11 other ATV calls. Five personal watercraft complaints were filed.

There were six snowmobile crashes with injuries. There was one snowmobile fatality. People filed four complaints about snowmobiles, reported two through the ice and called about nine other snowmobile-related issues. Of the six motorcycle crashes, three had injuries and one was a fatality.


Reports of 160 burglaries and 38 attempts to burglarize were filed. Reports of crimes against families included 200 for abuse and 173 for neglect. There were 143 calls concerning vulnerable adults and 263 domestic disputes.

There were 414 calls for public assistance, 69 calls to check a property, 320 reports of property damage, 144 reports of property/land disputes and 342 requests for removal.

Among the 2018 fires, 63 were at homes; 11 at businesses; 26 in motor vehicles; eight in chimneys; 81 grass/forest fires; 11 in garages; 29 were controlled burns; three calls were for illegal burning; 38 were related to hazardous materials/fuel/gas leaks; and 59 other calls.

There were 186 reports of fraud and 138 reports of welfare fraud.

Of the calls about juveniles, 137 involved incorrigible juveniles; 69 were runaways; four were for curfew violations; seven were mental illness-related; five for alcohol possession; seven for truancies; and one for possession of tobacco.

There were 180 motor vehicle collisions with deer, but only two resulted in injuries to the vehicle occupants. Twenty-two vehicle repossession cases were filed. Reports were made of 33 abandoned vehicles. Of the other motor vehicle incidents, three were through the ice; four were fatalities; 261 did not involve injuries; 75 involved injuries; 124 in the ditch; one involved a pedestrian without injury; and three involved pedestrian with injuries.

Officers conducted 894 compliance checks on registered predatory offenders and found two instances of violations.

One officer suffered an injury during the year. There were 13 crashes involving squad cars, but no injuries.


People reported road conditions and hazards 134 times. They reported suspicious activity 129 times, suspicious people 409 times and suspicious vehicles 222 times. They reported erratic driving 178 times.

Officers stopped people 140 times for driving after license cancellation, suspension or revocation. They arrested 48 impaired drivers in 2018 with average blood alcohol level of .158 or two times the legal limit to drive a motor vehicle. The highest reading was .32 blood alcohol concentration.

The sheriff's office issued six weather alerts and six notices of flooding.

Cass County's K-9 Yankee was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in October 2018 and had to be put down. He will be replaced this year.

The sheriff's office booked 2,719 people into jail in 2018 for a daily average of 7.45. That is down from the record looking back to 2002, when the sheriff 3,010 booked into jail in 2017.

For a complete list of calls and to learn more about the sheriff's programs, see the full sheriff's report at .

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