The Dent County Sheriff’s Office released its annual incident time analysis report to The Salem News on Jan. 10. The report documents the activities of deputies in 2019, including the number of different incidents responded to, which kinds were most common, and the length various incidents were worked. Sheriff Bob Wells says the statistics is being made public to be transparent with local citizens and communicate the nature of county law enforcement last year.

“Twenty-nineteen was a busy year for the Dent County Sheriff’s Office,” Wells says. “We investigated numerous crimes and incidents throughout the county. We spent more time patrolling the county while dealing with an ever-increasing court and prisoner transport commitment. With each new year, we are experiencing an increase in the number of mentally ill people within the county who need help. It has become a draw on our manpower and there are only limited resources to help these individuals. We spend weeks and sometimes months to find help for those individuals.”

Wells reports the sheriff’s office has strengthened partnerships in the community by working with area schools and community groups. He cites the county’s neighborhood watch initiative has made progress this year and generated several leads that have led to arrests that would not have otherwise not been made.

“I want to thank the citizens of Dent County for their support and encourage everyone to join our Community Watch Program,” Wells says.

The Dent County Sheriff's Office also actively participates and works with the South-Central Drug Task Force, which is a multi-jurisdictional agency focusing on felony drug investigations.

The 2019 annual incident time analysis report details that last year deputies:

• conducted 53 Part I arrests (which includes murder, non-negligent homicide, rape, robbery aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, larceny/theft and arson).

• conducted 292 Part II arrests (which includes simple assaults, forgery/counterfeiting, fraud/embezzlement, receiving stolen property, weapons violations, prostitution, sex crimes, crimes against family/children, narcotics drug laws, liquor laws, drunkenness, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, gambling and DUI).

• issued 242 total court summons.

• responded to 3 reports of an assault being in progress with a gun or edged weapon. An additional 6 such incidents were responded to when not reported to be in progress.

• responded to 54 reports of theft, and another 24 cases of not-in-progress stealing.

• responded to 2 incidents of property damage being in progress. There were 29 incidents of property damage responded to which were not in progress.

• assisted the Division of Family Services with 42 investigations. There were additionally 7 juvenile criminal cases. There were 20 reports of a suicidal individuals.

• engaged in 1,189 area checks for local residents. Wells says area checks are conducted regularly at schools, parks, cemeteries and other public areas as well as at private residences when requested.

• conducted 727 traffic stops. There were 77 incidents of careless and imprudent driving, 91 cases of stranded motorists and deputies assisted the highway patrol with 125 traffic accidents.

• responded to a total of 104 fire incidents. Of those, 52 were controlled burns, 35 were structure fires, 9 were brush fires, 5 were vehicle fires and two were gas leaks.

Deputies responded to 269 animal cases. Wells says such incidents can range from loose livestock to menacing dogs running at large.

In addition, there were 77 incidents of trespassing. There were also 18 incidents of harassment and 2 reports of stalking. The sheriff’s office actively monitors 62 sex offenders in Dent County for state compliance.

Domestic disturbance incidents totaled 148. Sixty-five such incidents were reported to be physical and in progress. Another 21 incidents were reported to be physical but not in progress. Sixty-two disturbances were reported to be verbal and not physical in nature.

There were 88 reports taken of a suspicious subject and 118 reports of a suspicious vehicle. There was a total of 317 separate investigations opened.

There were 254 incidents of inmates being transported by deputies. There were 101 incidents in which deputies assisted an outside agency. There were 19 missing person cases.

The sheriff’s office answered 5,170 emergency calls to dispatch through the county’s 911 system. Another 22,032 nonemergency calls were handled by dispatch. Wells says many calls for service were resolved by law enforcement and did not require assistance from the prosecutor’s office. Deputies served a total of 1,320 court papers in 2019. The sheriff’s office also sponsors and operates the Sheriff's Academy in Salem.