Sheriff: DCSO is doing more with less

Criminal cases assigned to the Dougherty County Sheriff's investigators were up by more than 47 percent, officials say.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul gestures while giving his report to county commissioners.

Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul gestures while giving his report to county commissioners.

ALBANY, Ga. — Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul told commissioners Monday that his office did more in 2011 than ever before, despite staff shortages.

Sproul said he saw increases in areas ranging from criminal cases assigned to investigators — which were up 47 percent over last year — to an increase in the number of registered sex offenders — up 24 percent over 2010.

The impact, the increased work, and the reduced staff is having on the department is forcing many to take on additional responsibilities, Sproul says.

“Most of our individuals, instead of being assigned one position, now they’re wearing many hats. Let me just say it that way,” Sproul said. “They’re crossing over and working in many more areas, than they’ve been accustomed to in previous years ... they all know that we’re here to serve the community as best we can with the resources we’re given.”

One area that appeared to have peaked in 2011 but is now on the decline is the average daily jail population numbers.

Col. John Ostrander, director of the Dougherty County Jail, said that 2011 saw the daily population top out at 917, up from 863 in 2010 and 844 in 2009.

“If you look at the trend, there’s a definite upward climb there, which was troubling to us and is, frankly, what prompted a call to the District Attorney’s office for a get together with our friends in the justice system,” Ostrander said. “Since that time, cases are being handled more efficiently, and we’ve seen our numbers drop considerably.”

Ostrander said that the inmate population Monday was 779, below even the 2009 number.

And given that the jail is the single-largest component of the Sheriff’s budget, the fewer inmates the better for both the community and the taxpayers.

“It’s an everyday battle, not just in Dougherty County but in all counties,” Sproul said. “If you look at Sheriff Office budgets across the country, you’ll see that, most of the time, the jails are the largest component ... We’re trying to tackle that elephant in the room which is recidivism.”

Sproul told commissioners Monday that his investigators were assigned 503 cases in 2011, with 327 cases cleared by arrest or dismissal.

The number of sex offenders in Dougherty County who are monitored by the sheriff’s office now sits at 302, which is up 24 percent from last year. The number of sex offenders managed monthly by the office is at 297, up 18 percent from 2010.

Sproul said that his office examined 16,391 latent fingerprints and examined 5,573 pieces of evidence for prints on 1,438 cases in 2011.

The office participated in 48 different speaking engagements, taught 82 classes in local schools and had 59 interventions within the local school system.

As far as the sheriff’s booking and bonding work goes, 176 people were booked into the sheriff’s office downtown, with 3,703 bonds processed. 1,540 people were fingerprinted with 6,235 traffic citations processed for the year.

Sproul said his office has seen an increase in the number of criminal records requests. Military background checks, which are required for people doing work at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, topped out at 832, an increase of 145 percent from 2010, while 92 people tried to have records expunged, an increase of more than 400 percent.

At the jail, 102,130 visitors were welcomed to the facility in 2011, 9,649 inmates were booked, 9,601 were released, and 19,250 total inmates were processed throughout the year.

At the judicial building, 140,501 people walked into the building last year, 2,557 of which had some kind of prohibited weapon or item, although Sproul said that no one attempted to bring a firearm into the courthouse.

As far as revenues go, the sheriff’s saw an uptick in revenues by more than a half-million dollars in 2011, finishing the year with $2.6 million.