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Sheriff’s Annual Report: Civil, jail activity increases

IOWA CITY — Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek has released his annual report for 2010 detailing the activities of the Sheriff’s Office.
The decline of the economy is reflected in Pulkrabek’s numbers from the Civil Division, which is responsible for a variety of functions including General Executions, Evictions and Sheriff’s Sales. General Executions, a process where businesses or individuals attempt to collect money from debtors, increased from 1433 in 2009 to 1652. Sheriff’s Sales due to foreclosures jumped from 68 to 123. The sheriff noted the real estate sales ranged from a $20,000 residential property up to commercial property worth more than $1,000,000. The division reported a total of 10,809 activities, up from 9,956 in 2009.
The Jail Division also saw a noticeable increase in activity last year with the average daily jail population going up from 144.6 to 167 while actual bookings into the jail decreased from 7,242 to 6,681. Transports due to overcrowding (the jail was designed with a capacity of 92) increased from 770 in 2009 to 865 last year. Total transports (warrant, juvenile, mental, overcrowding, court-ordered and “other”) took a large jump from 1,580 to 1,706. While the costs of transporting prisoners dropped from $94,761 to $69,112; the cost of having other counties house the inmates topped $1 million. Pulkrabek noted that moving the communications center out of the Sheriff’s Office to the Joint Emergency Communications Center (JECC) freed up space, which will be utilized as a booking and intake area.
Discussion and planning regarding a new Justice Center continues.
On July 1, 2010, the sheriff’s dispatch moved into the JECC, consolidating all law enforcement, fire department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) dispatching and communications in the county, with the exception of the University of Iowa’s Department of Public Safety. The sheriff’s report for dispatch center activity only covers the six months of independent operations. However, in that time frame, 32,880 calls for service were received. 10,863 were 911 calls. Of note, wireless 911 calls far outpaced landline calls 9,313 to 1,550; which has been an on-going trend for at least the past three years.
The Patrol Division serves as the primary law enforcement service for the unincorporated areas of the county as well as contracted services to Hills, Lone Tree, Oxford, North Liberty, Shueyville, Solon, Swisher and Tiffin. The deputies patrol 36 miles of Interstates 80 and 380, 54 miles of state highways and 909 miles of county roads.
Pulkrabek noted a change in reporting this year as verbal warnings are reflected in citation figures. Previously, only written warnings and tickets were counted. With the addition, the deputies issued 7,202 citations and warnings last year. Speed citations dropped from 1,855 in 2009 to 1,584. Likewise, stop sign violations and seat belt violations also dropped significantly in the past year. Deputies responded to 14,519 calls for service, up from 13,829 in 2009; and up from 2008’s total of 12,411.
The Patrol Division is also home to the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT), the Water Search and Rescue, and the Johnson County Metro Bomb Squad. Lazer, the K-9, is also a proud member of the division.
Looking at major crimes, burglary went up from 71 to 122 while theft dropped from 151 to 86. The county experienced one murder per year for the last three years. Under “Class B” offenses, liquor law violations rose slightly, Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) saw two less cases than in 2010; and only one more “bad check” case (three, up from two the year before) was handled. The catch-all category of “all other offenses” rose from 248 to 280.
Firearms permits also kept the department busy. In 2009 1,067 permits to purchase (handguns) were issued. While that number dropped last year to 996, the number of permits for concealed carry went from 408 to 552. Pulkrabek noted a significant increase in permits for 2011.