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Cass County Sheriff's Corner: Closing the books on a busy 2017

As we close out 2017 and begin 2018, I would like to review events from the sheriff's office from our previous year. 2017 was another busy year for every division within the Cass County Sheriff's Office. As we work to complete our year end statis...

Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch
Tom Burch

As we close out 2017 and begin 2018, I would like to review events from the sheriff's office from our previous year. 2017 was another busy year for every division within the Cass County Sheriff's Office. As we work to complete our year end statistics and put finishing touches on our annual report that will be presented in the coming month to the Cass County Board of Commissioners and published on our website, I would like to share a recap of our activity.

Our main method to document and monitor activity is by ICR Number (Initial Complaint Report). These are also sometimes referred to as CFS (Calls For Service). ICRs are a variety of calls for service that our dispatch center receives that requires some sort of action, whether it be from a sheriff's deputy, a local police department, an ambulance call or a fire call. These also count self-initiated responses from officers. Every form of activity that is completed is documented through a ICR number. In 2017 we processed 22,474 ICRs, which is 436 more than last year. While we have not seen a significant increase in crime, we have perfected the method for documenting activity and creating ICRs for self-initiated contacts and activities. We utilize the system to document a variety of officer and agency activity for quick access and new forms of recordkeeping for our agency and our partner Police Departments throughout the county.

Our detention center (jail) had another record busy year booking 3,010 inmates with a daily booking average of 8.25 inmates per day. This is a significant increase over last year and a record for the jail. Again, this trend doesn't appear to be a direct correlation to an increase in crime, rather seeing more arrest warrants being conducted as well as probation violations. Drug possession has been one of the most common charges, with the month of June being the highest for inmates in jail and November for the least. Our female inmate numbers continue to run high with on average of 15 being in jail in June compared to 14 males the same month. This is a trend that is being seen statewide. We continue to utilize our contract with Crow Wing County Jail for housing inmates and held on average of 45 inmates per month in their facility.

The patrol division continues to be very busy. In 2017 our patrol division was mostly up to full staff, which is a first in recent years. Traffic and tourism numbers seemed to be higher in our area than they have been in several years. Cass County is a busy place with lots of events happening that require certain responses from our staff. We are proud that we are up to full staff, equipped and current on training and trends to be able to respond to these events and incidents appropriately. Deputies continue to maintain an excellent countywide response time to emergency calls and spend a significant amount of time investigating and following up on these calls. Our Investigations Division has processed and investigated several burglary and drug cases. Our Investigators meet with child protection teams daily to review intakes. They also work closely with intake and social workers investigating allegations of abuse and maltreatment. Deputies completed 848 random predatory offender checks on between 134-140 Level Unassigned, 1, 2, and 3 offenders living in our County. Our deputies also attend city and township meetings, as well as community and school events and functions, helping to promote our community policing platform within our agency. Sheriff Outreach days were once again held throughout the year. This involves moving our office to other areas in the county for a few hours each month giving citizens the opportunity to visit with staff from the sheriff's office and talk about public safety and other concerns in their neighborhoods. We are seeing a slight shift in types of calls for service including responding to more "social problems" as well as frauds and scams, which can include forms of harassment or threatening behaviors. We also have seen a significant increase in mental health issues, which require a special response from our office and at times require a significant amount of follow-up.

Our firearms permits are slightly down this year with 348 permits to purchase processed and 431 permits to carry processed. This compares to 407 and 722 in 2016. While this may not be a trend, we do see an occasional variation in numbers from year to year as carry permits are valid for five years and prior to this year, we processed a larger amount.

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Our Civil Process division processed and served 1,364 legal papers, including an increase in order for protection papers, as well as harassment restraining orders. We continue to see a decrease in mortgage foreclosure sales countywide.

Our Emergency Management Division saw a new emergency management director this year and training has been completed with several projects being finished up and new projects started.

We are proud of our partnerships with many volunteer groups that work with us to bring public safety initiatives to Cass County including Lakes Area Dive Team, Chaplaincy Initiative, TRIAD, Volunteer Boat and Water Patrols, ATV SAR (Search and Rescue), Posse, and our Emergency Services Board.

As always, we are privileged and grateful to have served the residents and visitors of Cass County in 2017 and years past. We are committed to providing law enforcement and public safety needs to our communities in 2018 and beyond!

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: by email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us ; by phone; at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by Mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff's Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box 1119.

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