Sheriff presents 2019 information
Brown County Sheriff John Merchant recently provided county residents 2019 statistics for the Brown County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO).
For 2019, BCSO dispatchers received approximately 18,550 calls for service – approximately 51 calls per day – including the City of Hiawatha, Town and Country Ambulance, Squad 48, Hiawatha Fire, Tribal Police and telephone inquiries that go directly to dispatch. Brown County deputies were responsible for approximately 9,500 of those calls for the 2019 year, or approximately 26 calls/cases per day.
In 2019, 911 calls to BCSO increased drastically due to above normal traffic for approximately six months, due to the flooding in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri, and traffic was rerouted through U.S. 36 and 75 highways.
The following are most of the statistics of what was handled at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office level: 911 Calls, Misdials, Hang-Ups – 5,330; Warrants – 192; Chase-Pursuits – 9; DUI, K-9 and Narcotics – 113; Accidents – 213; Domestic – 17; Animal Calls – 126; Traffic Stops – 2,264; Criminal Damage – 10; Assist Other Agencies – 180; Assist Motorists – 447; Community Policing/Civil – 77; Illegal Dumping – 16; Alarm Calls – 64; Burglary/Theft – 62; Trespass – 10; Offender Registration – 295; Process Service – 1,760 — over 5,000 attempts of service by deputies; Pedestrian Checks/Suspicious Person – 142; Vehicle Unlock – 266; VINs – 212; Reckless Driving – 228; Welfare Checks – 146; Misc Calls – 310; Fire Test – 360; Transports – 111; and Road Blocked – 72.
The jail portion of the Sheriff’s Office has held more than 570 different inmates in the 2019 year with an average daily population of approximately 20. These inmates are all arrests of Brown County entities. Very seldom does the Brown County Jail house any out-of-county inmates and, if so, is done for a very short period of time under special circumstance.
Sheriff Merchant said they have been very blessed to be a location where the “No Hunger Summer” program has been offered to children and families in the office basement during the summer months. According to Merchant, it is a wonderful project that has brought together some very dedicated volunteers to make sure kids have noon meals during the week, so hunger wouldn’t be an option.
The Sheriff’s Office car seat program has helped more than 850 families to provide safe travel for children in the last 12 years. This program is funded through grants from the State and donations from the public. The office also inspects car seats and provides safety information to parents and caregivers about the importance of proper car seat use, installation and care. BCSO has five deputies who are CPS Techs, and one who is an instructor.
Since BCSO is a 24/7 agency, Sheriff Merchant decided that they should accept unwanted, unused or expired medications at all hours of the night and day, any day of the year. At any time, people can drop off their medication at dispatch. BCSO has been a participant of the National Takeback Event since its inception approximately eight years ago, and has turned in more than 2,000 pounds of medication to be destroyed by the DEA.
Sheriff Merchant said they are very proud of the fact that, as of this year, they have certified over 1,200 high school students and staff in First Aid, CPR and AED. Last year, Kansas required all students learn these very important life saving skills before graduating. The Sheriff’s Office has been certifying students for the last five years through the generosity of the Ruth and Roger Wolf Charitable Trust, grants and other donations. They have five certified instructors at the Sheriff’s Office, as well as Horton Police Chief John Calhoon.
By providing these life saving skills, the Sheriff’s Office has enabled the students to render aid to each other in case of an active shooter situation, vehicle accident, farming accident, while baby-sitting or family medical emergency. BCSO had several students and staff inform the office that they had actually put those skills to use and have saved lives. According to Sheriff Merchant, that is quite a testimony for the importance of the program. That also provides BCSO the opportunity to work with students at a different level in hopes to inspire them to pursue a career in law enforcement or emergency services.
Each deputy patrols an average of 150 to 200 miles per shift, going through the small towns daily. Deputies are responsible for serving papers, traffic stops, rendering aid to citizens, answering complaints, working cases, making arrests, serving warrants, attend multiple training classes, Sheriff briefings, testifying in court, proper maintenance of their vehicles, etc. Vehicle stops are an important part of crime deterrent as officer presence is not favored by those who choose to break the law.
According to Merchant, statistics have proven that a proactive law enforcement agency has a major impact on reducing crime rates, which is verified by the 2018 KBI Crime Index. By this statistic, Brown County has the lowest crime rate compared to many other counties in the region. Brown County has an estimated county population — excluding Hiawatha and Horton — of 4,741 with a property crime offense rate of 1.7 occurrences per 1,000 people. The City of Hiawatha has a estimated population of 3,132 with a property crime offense rate of 37.7 occurrences per 1,000 people, and the City of Horton has an estimated population of 1,687 with a property crime offense rate of 14.2 occurrences per 1,000 people. Merchant encourages everyone to research the KBI Crime Index and review all the statistics, and feel free to ask any questions.
BSCO introduced a new program this year that focuses on teaching teen drivers the perils of reckless driving and the consequences that follow. A Ford Raptor was purchased as a way to introduce students to the teaching method and to provide common ground.
Merchant firmly believes the effort they have put forth in notifying the public on scams circulating the county has made a positive difference. Merchant says, by informing and educating county residents, the county is much safer, and has very few victims when it comes to money loss or identity theft due to scammers.