Kahl reviews Sheriff's Department stats at committee meeting

Kahl reviews Sheriff’s Department stats at committee meeting

CARLINVILLE (Sept. 7, 2017) – Three Macoupin County Board committees met Tuesday evening, Sept. 5, with most discussion coming in the Public Safety Committee meeting, during which Sheriff Shawn Kahl gave the committee some figures regarding the department’s activity this year.

So far this year, deputies have handled 7,565 calls for service (an average of about 30 per day), with either two or three deputies on duty at a time, covering the county’s nearly 900 square miles. They also serve about 3,000 papers per year.

It was noted that deputies can call municipal police departments for assistance if necessary, but many mayors are reluctant to have their officers go out of their jurisdiction, so Kahl tries to avoid that if possible. Municipal officers do not have jurisdiction outside their cities unless they are specifically requested by county. “It’s not their job to go out and do our work for us out in the county,” Kahl said.

Most of the calls come from the southern portion of the county (south of Route 16), which accounts for 4,976; the central portion of the county had 1,113 calls, while the northern part had 1,063 calls. He noted the southern part of the county is more heavily populated and closer to the Metro East.

“Can I say there’s one area that has more drugs or domestics, no, I mean, I think everybody has their problems throughout the county,” he said. “There’s no one area that’s probably worse than the others.”

Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are the busiest days of the week, while the busiest times of day are from 9 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., though they do get calls all night long.

Deputies have handled nearly 300 automobile crashes this year, including one record-setting weekend a couple weeks ago, during which there were 12 crashes with no obvious contributing factor (such as weather).

Currently, there are 276 drug-related items in the evidence vault. So far, 64 pieces of drug material and 23 guns have been recovered this year. All told, 330 items of evidence have been collected this year, of which approximately 60 were collected about two weeks ago following an anonymous tip regarding possibly stolen items on Woodburn Road. That tip led to the discovery of those items, which included three motorcycles, a four-wheeler, drugs, guns and other items.

Kahl said the deputies are being sent to more and more calls involving guns, whether the guns are involved in the incidents or simply present at the residence. “It’s getting more violent. It’s getting more dangerous,” he said, mentioning the recent Wilsonville incident in which deputies were attacked with baseball bats. “It was a pretty bad situation,” he said. “They were almost ready to pull their guns and shoot, because they couldn’t stop these two guys.” He noted that deputies are now required to pair up for all well-being checks and domestic disputes and noted cutting staffing levels would make the job more dangerous.

In addition to dispatching for county deputies, the county dispatchers also handle calls for 911, four  municipalities and all ambulances and fire departments. In all, the dispatchers handle at least 50,000 calls per year, including 20,000 911 calls. There are 10 dispatchers, with two on duty at most times.

An average of about 300 people visit the courthouse per day, for a total of about 4,500 per month. On heavy court days, that number can jump to about 400 or 500 people per day.

New bulletproof vests have been ordered for the deputies; the vests costs about $14,000, and the grant is expected to cover about half of that amount. The mobile computers have been purchased and distributed; the department went from sharing five units to having 14, which will help lower gas costs of having to return the computers to headquarters at the end of each shift.

A squad car has been purchased to replace the one that was wrecked. Kahl would like to increase the appropriation in the new vehicle fund to cover the remaining balance of the car, which is roughly $15,500; there is plenty of money in the fund to cover the cost, but a resolution will have to be passed to increase the appropriation.

A Hazard Mitigation Committee meeting will be held at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 14, to discuss rewriting the county’s hazard mitigation plan, which was initially written in 2010 and must be rewritten every five years. The county was approved for a grant to cover its portion of the cost of revising the plan, which is about $64,000; 75 percent of the cost is paid by the federal government, while the county’s portion (thanks to the grant), will come in terms of time provided by personnel attending the planning meetings and working on the plan. There will be no outlay of funds by the county. There will be a total of about four meetings over the next nine months, to review documentation. Attendees will include representatives from municipalities, fire departments and districts, police departments, insurance companies, the regional superintendent of schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

EMA Coordinator Jim Pitchford said he has submitted an application for state funding for his office. Last year, they received about $27,000 of the department’s $52,000 budget; he has asked for about the same amount of money this year and expects it will be approved.

Other meetings

The  Executive Committee set the board for the Sept. 12 board meeting. In addition to approval of minutes from the August board meeting and the committee meetings that have taken place in the interim, the board will hear from guest Kent Tarro of Macoupin County Public Health Department and approve the reappointment of Ruth Ann Pomatto, Ralph March, Mike Barnard and Paula Robinson to three-year terms on the Public Health Board. Also on the agenda are six road/bridge petitions; four resolutions; property tax software bids; additional costs for the courthouse elevator project due to mandates from the inspector; and discussion of the Alton Convention Business Bureau and the courthouse elevator maintenance contract.

The Executive Committee briefly went into closed session to discuss potential litigation; following the closed session, they voted to strike an agenda item regarding the potential litigation from the Sept. 12 meeting’s agenda.

The Environmental Health Committee briefly discussed establishing an ordinance for nuisance properties and/or expanding its landfill ordinance to cover, as an example, situations in which someone has barrels of chemicals sitting in a garage for disposal at an unspecified future date. They will have State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson review the current ordinance and make recommendations for changes.