By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer
(Walhalla, SC)——————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office offers the following report to the citizens of our county concerning crime and law enforcement activities for 2014.
Sheriff Crenshaw includes the following accomplishments that were realized by the dedicated men and women at the Sheriff’s Office working in partnership with the citizens of Oconee County and other law enforcement agencies:
• The inaugural class of the first Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy. 23 graduated from the 10 week class in November of 2014.
• The Sheriff’s Office partnership with Safe Harbor allowed prevention and intervention to begin in our schools along with opening the first domestic violence shelter in Oconee County.
• A continued emphasis on drug enforcement with four major drug round-ups bringing the total to eight in the last two years.
• The hiring of a part-time investigator to work the unsolved homicide and missing person cases, some of which date back many years.
• The creation of elementary school drug prevention and mentoring program. The first elementary school resource officer began working throughout the county.
• The continuation of community involvement by starting the “Coffee with a Cop” program where citizens can interact with local law enforcement.
• Continued transparency with the purchase of 25 AXON Body Cameras. This brings our total to 35 deputies, which includes the entire uniform patrol division.
• Groundbreaking for our Detention Facility, which is slated to open in mid-2015.
• Partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service to conduct registered sex offender address verification.
• The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Oconee County were recognized at a meeting in February of 2014 by the South Carolina Association of Counties for a 2013 Outstanding Safety Achievement for the program in which every certified received a tourniquet kit.
• Continued partnership with local agencies, which included an interdiction operation with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office continued to partner with the local municipal police departments in Oconee County in enforcement activities, such as drug sweeps.
• The Sheriff’s Office employees adopted a section of Highway 11 as part of the Palmetto Pride Highway Adoption program.
• The Sheriff’s Office became the first agency in the state to use Mobile Watch, which is an app associated with sex offender registry compliance.
• The Sheriff’s Office created a Speaker’s Bureau where deputies are available to speak to various citizens’ groups concerning the many aspects of the Sheriff’s Office.
• The Sheriff’s Office received two grants, totaling $1,500, from the Mayberry Comes to Westminster event and from State Farm insurance for elementary school drug prevention efforts.
• Crime Stoppers of Oconee County, Inc. received 184 tips in 2014 with 24 of those tips resulting in arrests. $1,750 in tips was paid out in 2014.
• The Sheriff’s Public Information Office continues to keep our citizens informed by issuing 313 press releases for the year.
• The Sheriff’s Office Facebook and Twitter pages continue to grow, with over 4.400 individuals liking our Facebook page and over 400 individuals following us on Twitter.
• The Sheriff’s Office provided inmate labor to help in remodeling and restoring the City of Walhalla’s public swimming pool.
According to Sheriff’s Office records, the following are some of the violent and property crimes reported in 2014. They include the following:
• 3 homicides
• 66 death Investigations
• 7 robberies
• 62 aggravated assaults
• 6 arsons
• 479 burglaries
• 352 cases of shoplifting
• 763 cases of other larcenies
• 47 cases of motor vehicle theft
• 35 cases of forgeries
• 178 cases of credit card or ATM fraud
• 200 cases of vandalism
• 39 sexual assaults
• 202 reported criminal domestic violence cases
• 33 Child Abuse Sexual
• 16 Child Abuse Physical
• 46 Child Abuse Neglect
The Sheriff’s Office summaries from each of the five divisions for 2014:
Emergency Communications/E-911 Division
In 2014, 75,497 calls were received for service. There were 48,129 total in progress calls. Friday and Saturday were tied for the busiest day of the week in terms of in progress calls.
The total amount of telephone calls was 252,447, of which there were 38,578 Emergency 911 calls and 213,869 which were non-emergency calls. Oconee County dispatch was also ahead of the national standard based on NENA and NFPA requirements for 911 calls answered within ten and twenty seconds. Dispatchers spent a total of 5,548 hours on the telephone in 2014 and employees had around 2,352 total training hours in 2014. 82% of all 911 calls were from wireless devices.
Special Operations Division
The Sheriff’s Office made 319 drug related cases in 2014. The value of drugs seized was over 1.3 million. Methamphetamines accounted for the most prevalent drug for the second year in a row. In total, there were 15 meth labs dismantled during the year. Each drug related case in most instances has more than one defendant and multiple charges per defendant.
The warrant team served 1,772 warrants on 1,031 individuals. The courthouse security unit had a total of ¬¬123 terms of court, including 20 terms of General Sessions, 42 Family Court weeks, and 25 terms of Common Pleas Court. 60,469 individuals were scanned through the metal detectors coming into the courthouse. 904 defendants were transported from jail to court while 73 trips were made to out of county facilities to transport detained juveniles to and from court.
The Aviation Unit had 23 flights which includes 12 law enforcement missions, 6 training missions, and 5 community service missions
The SWAT team had 5 activations for high risk drug warrants and continued training on a monthly basis in order to be prepared in the event of an emergent situation.
A specialized interdiction team conducted 756 vehicle stops which resulted in 36 felony arrests, 91 drug cases, 105 K-9 searches, 10 fugitive arrests, and 739 citations being issued.
The Training Unit plays a vital role and conducted or coordinated more than 7,000 hours of training for our agency. This includes mandated in-service classes along with advanced and basic academy classes.
The Civil Unit served 3,299 papers in 2014 which included 172 evictions and 11 foreclosures.
The K-9 Unit which consists of one German Shepherd, two Dutch Shepherd’s, two Belgian Malinois’s, and a Bloodhound. This unit trained for a combined 1350 hours and assisted with vehicle searches and missing persons.
Road Patrol Division
There were 988 individuals arrested by the road patrol division, with around 1268 charges from those arrests. An additional 199 people were issued courtesy summons but not taken to jail.
This division wrote a total of 4,383 incident reports, which is an average of almost 129 reports per officer.
The division has seven reserve deputies that volunteer their time during the year to assist with law enforcement activities. The 500+ hours worked in 2014 saved the taxpayers just over $10,000.00 based on the cost per hour for a full-time deputy with benefits.
There were 25 uses of force department wide during 2014, 24 of those by the Patrol Division. Based on 1187 arrests/citations being made, patrol deputies had to use force on 2% of those arrested; no officers were injured in 2014 during use of force encounters; minor cuts and abrasions on five (5) suspects, none of which were transported to a medical facility and/ or refused medical treatment.
There were 0 uses of deadly force in 2014.
The Sheriff’s Office initiated 1,979 vehicle stops in 2014 compared to 1371 in 2013. The following is a breakdown of the ethnicity for males and females:
2013 – Female – 13 Hispanic, 85 African American, 366 Caucasian, 13 Other
Male – 44 Hispanic, 129 African American, 710 Caucasian, 11 Other
2014 – Female – 24 Hispanic, 106 African American, 535 Caucasian, 13 Other
Male – 82 Hispanic, 216 African American, 988 Caucasian, 15 Other
Community Services/Criminal Investigation Division
Criminal Investigations was assigned 1,594 cases in 2014, which includes 202 cases of criminal domestic violence. 1,062 of those cases were cleared and 573 persons were arrested. Statically, Criminal Investigations cleared 67% of their assigned cases.
2,212 cases were assigned to the Victim Services Unit, which includes providing victim services to the cities of Westminster, Walhalla, West Union, and Salem. The Victim Advocates attended court with the victims of crimes 261 times. The Victim Advocates were also assigned to all 202 criminal domestic violence cases with 85 orders of protection issued.
The Marine Unit covered around 1900 miles in 2014 along Lake Hartwell, Keowee and Jocassee, with 124 vessel safety checks conducted.
The School Resource Officers taught 116 classes involving approximately 2,088 students. The topics covered in those cases were harassment, bullying, texting, unlawful communication, drugs and alcohol. They conducted 355 student conferences and 159 parent conferences with 39 home visits. There were 14 juvenile referrals to DJJ and 43 tickets written. The SRO’s worked 785 hours for activities after the school day ended.
The Elementary School Resource Officer taught 25 classes involving approximately 550 students. Topics covered are primarily drugs, safety and bullying. He conducted 21 student/parent conferences with 9 home visits. He made approximately 300 classroom visits mentoring and establishing trust with the students.
Animal Control took in 3951 animals in 2014, with 1,152 animals adopted and 224 returned to their owners. There were 860 transferred to no kill rescues 1,715 were euthanized. Overall, Animal Control received 2,230 calls for service. There were 117 tickets issued. Statistically, 44% of all animals taken in were euthanized while 56% were saved through adoption, transfer to a rescue, or returned to their owner.
Environmental Services received 278 litter complaints, with the total number of litter charges at 58. The Sheriff’s Office participated in the Zero Tolerance for Litter campaign in 2014, which was sponsored by Palmetto Pride. The Sheriff’s Inmate work crew picked up approximately 4000lbs. of litter and 20 tires along the county’s roadways. The Sheriff’s Office adopted a two mile stretch of Highway 11 and picked up a total of eighty bags of trash using employee volunteers and their family members.
Oconee County currently has 166 registered sex offenders. There were 7 warrants signed in 2014 regarding sex offender registry violations, with guilty pleas in 5 of those cases and 2 cases found guilty. Statistically, the Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Program has a 96% compliance rate.
Community Services welcomed numerous students for job shadow day, and represented our agency at health, job, and safety fairs. Six church security assessments and one industry assessment was conducted. Neighborhood Crime Watch meetings were held in various communities.
Oconee County Detention Center
The average daily population at the Detention Center for 2014 was around 170, which was a 21.6% increase from 2013, where the average daily population around 140.
The most significant increase for inmates was for pre-trial males, around a 40% increase from 2013. Pre-trial female population increased 38%.
The total number of bookings (arrestees processed) declined, from 4,138 in 2013 to 3,881 in 2014. The significant increase in average daily population in the pre-trial population combined with the decrease in bookings could indicate one or more of the following possible causes: more pre-trial inmates unable to make bond, possibly due to higher bonds, more serious offenses, or cases of jailed inmates are taking longer to be adjudicated in court.
The Detention Center partnered with the Oconee County Public Library who brings the Book-Mobile to the Detention Center once a month.
The Detention Center began a partnership with St. Luke United Methodist Church and started a program called “Life Skills for Employment.” Volunteers from the church come once a week with laptop computers and are paired with inmates to teach them how best to fill out job applications online. The various other programs from church groups continued in 2014 with admirable diligence and dedication shown by volunteers.
25 inmates were placed in electronic monitoring in 2014; of which 14 are currently remain on a monitor.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to promote community oriented policing principles of establishing relationships with our citizens and building partnerships to make our county a safer place. We strive to maintain a spirit of transparency. We continue to work hard to earn the trust of the public we serve.