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July 9, 2020

5/20/2020 2:33:00 PM
JCSO reboots annual report, website
Goal to provide more information to public
Providing the public with information about what's happening at the Jennings County Sheriff's Office and the Jennings County Jail is the impetus behind a redesign of the department's website and of the annual jail report, both set in motion by Sheriff Kenny Freeman.

For the report, "we collected data that we thought was relevent to the public, and help residents understand what we do," Freeman said Tuesday. "We don't sit around just watching traffic."

Indeed, the department has been busy.

In 2019, officers booked 2,362 inmates, including one juvenile, and released the same number. Officers also handled one escape. About 400 inmates were transported during the year, logging around 65,000 miles.

Freeman said the recidivism rate, in which the same offenders are arrested more than once, hovers at about 60 percent of the 2,300 people brought into the jail.

That indicates that the county's troublemakers comprise only a small percentage of the county's total population. He hopes this information will help the department "get to the root of the problem" with recidivism in the county.

Additionally, the report states that $525,969 was reimbursed to the county by the state Department of Corrections.

Included in the report also is a list of the 10 most-common offenses leading to arrests last year, which was topped by possession of methamphetamine. Following, in descending order, were operating while intoxicated, wanted on a warrant, court orders, theft, possession of narcotics or legend drug violations, criminal confinement, maintaining a common nuisance, possession of marijuana and domestic battery.

Deputies were dispatched to nearly 11,000 calls. On the road, deputies made 952 arrests from 2,315 traffic stops. Deputies served papers to 2,764 individuals, filed 1,632 case reports and 375 accident reports, and logged more than 391,000 miles while on patrol.

Of the accidents investigated in 2019, seven included fatalities, mostly on State Hwy. 7, with none occurring on U.S. 50. That was down 22 percent from 2018, in which there were nine fatal crashes; more than half occurring on U.S. 50. But while crashes overall, were down in 2019, the number involving alcohol and drugs increased.

In 2018, only one crash involved a finding of alcohol in the deceased person's system. In 2019, two people who died in separate crashes had alcohol in their system; in one crash, the deceased's toxicology report found THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes a person high; and one crash in which the toxicology report found multiple drugs in the deceased person's system.

The latest report also includes an assessment of the health of inmates from 2018 until the end of 2019, provided by county Jail Division Head Nurse Lisa Carmer, who reported positive results from measures implemented to keep inmates healthy. In September 2018, there were 11 cases of hepatitis A among jail inmates.

Working with the Jennings County Health Department and a private infectious-disease control company, the nurse and jail staff were able to contain the outbreak and eradicate the disease from the jail last year. There have been no new cases reported.

Updated website

Visitors to jenningsheriff.org will find all kinds of information about activities of the Jennings County Sheriff's Office.

A menu at the top right provides a portal for residents to anonymously report crime tips, and to sign up to receive updates and emails from the department.

The home page also has links to the county's Most Wanted, sex offenders and the latest news, highlighting recent arrests as well as spotlighting staff, and the roster of current inmates at the county jail.

Under "Departments and Resources," residents may download applications for employment as well as a form to report complaints regarding individual deputies.

There also is a link to a website where residents may begin applications for an Indiana handgun permit.

There is also a "Kid's Corner," which provides safety tips for children while using the internet, and information about programs, including D.A.R.E.

The website update was funded last July, Freeman said, and will be updated and improved throughout the year.

"Our goal is to be more accessible," by providing information about how the office does business and improve its communications with the pulbic, Freeman said. "We are committed to continuous improvement."

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