Mar 26, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterAlthough the demand on its patrol deputies and dispatchers increased in 2013, the Fremont County sheriff's office managed to step up crime prevention efforts, according to a year-end report released March 25.
"What we think has resulted in that ability to be a little more proactive is restructuring," Sheriff Skip Hornecker said. "We're pulling some of that reactive weight off of the deputies and allowing them to be somewhat more proactive in terms of visibility and citations."
The report pointed to an 11 percent increase in the number of citations issued in 2013 over 2012 and a 22 percent increase in DUI arrests as evidence its preventive activity increased.
The numbers mark a turnaround, as citations decreased in 2012 and 2011, and DUI arrests fell 23 percent in 2012.
"We're seeing some gains in our proactive data," Hornecker said.
Total calls for service rose 4 percent in 2013, continuing a longer trend of increasing demand for law enforcement services. In 2012, the total calls went up 4 percent also. Calls rose 7 percent in 2011.
Calls for service include emergency and non-emergency notifications to the sheriff's office, such as a drunk driver, suspected burglary or loose dog, and the patrol division responds to them. In addition to patrol, the sheriff's office includes the countywide dispatch center, investigative division and detention center.
Hornecker said his deputies also are trying to patrol rural areas more in order to be more visible.
"That increases the perception or takes away the opportunity for crime," he said "That's one of the things we've been working on for years."
One change in particular allowed the sheriff's office to be more proactive. Last year, the agency made one deputy position in the Riverton area primarily handle vehicle identification number inspections and animal calls.
Those two categories take up much of the sheriff's office's patrol resources. Across the county, animal calls and VIN inspections accounted for 2,900 calls for service, or 29 percent of all such calls.
Having one deputy focus on that reactive work allows others to concentrate on preventing crime.
Hornecker also is keeping an eye on what may be a developing trend: a rise in more time-consuming calls.
"A lot of the calls for service now are not simple resolutions," Hornecker said. "They take an extended period of time for the deputies."
He has seen a "little shift" toward more criminal calls, such as larceny and burglary. Investigating a scene, collecting evidence, and maintaining evidence are labor intensive, he said.
The sheriff is not certain a trend is developing but would watch the statistics to see if one is, he said.
The Riverton area is driving the increase. Calls on the Riverton division, which includes Shoshoni, Pavillion and Kinnear. It is the largest population center in Fremont County.
Last year, the Dubois and Lander divisions saw between a 2 percent and a 5 percent decrease in calls for service. The Riverton division, however, saw a 10 percent rise.
"We just tend to have more activity on the Riverton side of our operation than we do in other places," Hornecker said.
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