For 2019, the Catoosa County heriff’s Office responded to approximately 50,671 calls for service. This is a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year. Still, with the increase in call volume, the Sheriff’s Office maintains an average response time of 10 minutes or less, where the national average is 18 minutes.
Domestic Violence is still a major concern for the Sheriff’s Office; however, mental illness is fast
becoming a bigger issue. These two issues can sometimes be combined as well. We have made it a goal in previous years and continue to strive to reach 100 percent of having all of our deputies complete the 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training, mental health response, and better understanding training.
We have increased our traffic enforcement in an effort to reduce accidents and injuries. With the growing number of vehicles on our roadways, it is imperative that everyone adheres to the rules and laws of safe driving. From 2018 to 2019, we saw a 6.8 percent decrease in traffic accidents and an 18.5 percent decrease in injuries reported in accidents. We feel these reductions are in direct correlation to our enforcement efforts.
One of the duties of the sheriff is the transportation of inmates to and from other facilities for sentences, warrants, or court orders/appearances. On any given day, we could have multiple deputies all over the state of Georgia or in surrounding states picking up and delivering inmates. Most of the alternative sentencing reform placed the burden of transportation on the sheriff, instead of the state like it is for a prison sentence. In 2019, deputies spent 1,852 man-hours on 670 transports that covered over 81,500 miles. We hope to see a slight reduction in bringing prisoners back from prison for hearings with the addition of a video system that was installed in the courtroom this year and linked to a number of prisons in Georgia and the Catoosa County Jail.
Deputies were also busy filing 5,397 incident reports, serving 3,293 warrants, and processing 3,463 civil papers. 1,556 of those incident reports were assigned to an investigator for further investigation, and 208 sex offenders were registered in Catoosa County.
We are pleased to continue to see a reduction in our part 1 crimes of 4.5 percent from 2018 to 2019. Part 1 crimes are what the federal government tracks for crime statistics such as murder, rape, burglary, motor vehicle theft, etc. Since 2015, we have seen a 35 percent decrease in our total number of part 1 crimes.
Our School Resource Officers taught CHAMPS (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety) to 844 5th graders over 328 instructional hours. CHAMPS is a valuable tool that families can use to further their conversations about drugs, alcohol, internet safety, bullying, and so much more. SRO’s also had instructional time with about 350 7th grade students to recap on the CHAMPS lessons one more time. Our children are a target of so many negative things, this day and age, that we feel it is imperative we continuously warn them about these dangers.
The Catoosa County Detention Center is a 248-bed facility that processes and houses offenders for all law enforcement agencies in Catoosa County. For 2019, the Detention Center processed 3,931 offenders, and the average daily population was 241.
Two notable objectives that were achieved in 2019, were the reserved parking spaces for a “safe exchange area” in front of the Sheriff’s Office, and the Cold Fire Tactical fire extinguishers. With the increase of online sales and the need for a safe area to make transactions, the Sheriff’s Office designated two parking spaces in front of the Sheriff’s Office as a “safe exchange area” with 24-hour video recording.
With recent vehicle fires, deputies were unable to deploy standard fire extinguishers inside the passenger compartment, due to it removing the oxygen from the fire and anyone in the passenger compartment. The Cold Fire Tactical fire extinguisher is a vegetable-based product that actually removes the heat from the fire allowing the first responder to operate in the same area and get occupants to safety. Two extinguishers were purchased for each frontline car.
2019 concluded our fourth annual compliance service review for CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies), and we go before the full Commission March of 2020 and expect to be reaccredited for another four years. CALEA serves as the premier credentialing association for public safety agencies nationally and provides accreditation services for law enforcement agencies, public safety communication centers, public safety training academies, and campus security agencies. The standards are promulgated by a board of 21 commissioners, representing a full spectrum of public safety leadership. The assessment process includes extensive self-assessment, annual remote web-based assessments, and quadrennial site- based assessments. Additionally, candidate agencies are presented to the Commission for final consideration and credentialing.
The Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office is one of 10 Sheriff’s Offices in the state of Georgia that chooses to adhere to the nationally recognized professional standards of CALEA and maintain accreditation.
2020 will be another busy year in continuing the implementation of a new records management system that will serve the Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center, Catoosa 911, Catoosa Fire, Fort Oglethorpe Police, and Ringgold Police. We anticipate going live on this new system, September 2020. We are also moving forward on developing a work-release program that we hope to break ground on in the first quarter of 2021.
Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk