Sheriff's deputies hard at work

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

ALBANY -- Newly released data suggests that the various divisions within the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office saw both highs and lows for 2010 when compared to the previous year.

Monday, Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul presented his annual report to the Dougherty County Commission based on data on the department's operations for the previous year.

According to that report and his comments to the commission, the department saw spikes in some areas and drops in others when compared to 2009.

One of the areas that saw a significant increase was in the time sheriff's deputies who are normally assigned to patrol the community -- or "road" deputies -- were reassigned to handle court security.

That figure saw a spike of 21 percent above 2009 figures, with deputies working 531.5 hours in court.

"We're having to work more court ... it's averaging about three weeks each month," Sproul said. "We're trying to work with the judges and court officials to make sure they have the security they need and request, but the down side is that those deputies spend less time on the road out in the community."

Both the number of warrants assigned to and the number of warrants served by deputies went up by double digits in 2010, Sproul said. Warrants assigned to the department from other agencies or from its own criminal investigations department crested at 12,009 for the year, which was up 13 percent from the 10,505 assigned in 2009.

The number of warrants served topped 8,400, which was up 27 percent from the 6,492 served in 2009.

Civil processes and investigative operations largely dropped, however, according to the report.

Civil papers -- subpoenas, lawsuits, etc. -- assigned to the department dropped by 14 percent, with 28,298 filed in 2010. Of those, 24,441 were actually served upon the recipient, which was also down by 20 percent.

Evictions bucked the trend and were up by 9.8 percent at 964.

The investigative division worked 40 percent fewer cases in 2010 and cleared or closed 40 percent fewer cases than in 2009.

Sproul also said the number of registered sex offenders living in Dougherty County has decreased from 2009 totals by 33 percent. He attributes the decline to those individuals moving out of the county. At the end of 2010, there were 243 registered sex offenders living in Dougherty County.

At the jail, detention officers saw the total number of people processed into the jail in 2010 grow to 9,356, up 2 percent from 2009. The number of inmates processed out of the jail kept the same pace, ending the year at 9,314, percent higher than 2009.

The jail's average daily population for 2010 was up to 863, 2.3 percent higher than 2009.

In 2010, 94,841 people visited friends or relatives at the jail, according to the report.

One area where numbers have declined significantly at the jail is in the number of times inmates were transported out of the facility for medical visits.

That number shrank by 21 percent for 2010, which is something Sproul credits to a contract brokered between the county and Phoebe for inmate care that provides some medical care at the jail.

In terms of revenue, the Sheriff's Office generated roughly $2.1 million in fines, fees and forfeitures in 2010, Sproul said.

To round out the report, the sheriff's office increased its crime prevention and intervention efforts significantly by doing 51 speaking engagements, up 55 percent, and 48 interventions with youth, or 27 percent more than 2009. The number of classes taught in schools, however, dropped 14 percent to 90 for 2010.

For Sproul and his staff, balancing the priorities of the Sheriff's Office and his constitutionally obligated duties of securing the courts, serving warrants and operating the jail with tight budgets, vacancies and other demands on his deputies and detention officers is becoming more of a challenge.