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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Pratt County a safe place to live

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  • Crimes against persons continue to be very low in Pratt County.
    The statistics for 2012 reveal that domestic violence (12), rape-sex crimes (4) and assault and battery (7) account for just 23 crimes in the county for the entire year.
    Although domestic violence was up three and assault and battery was up two from 2011, the numbers still mean its good to live in Pratt County.
    "When you look at person crimes, Pratt County is a very safe place to live," said Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn.
    While person crimes were low, the sheriff's office kept very busy during 2012.
    The sheriff's office received 3,880 calls for service in 2012 and about half of those, 1,995 were for traffic complaints and traffic enforcement.
    The increase in traffic enforcement was not accidental. The county suffered seven fatalities in 2012 and six of those were on back roads. Fatalities were up 50 percent from 2011 and Chinn wanted some changes.
    He told his officers he wanted to step up traffic enforcement especially speeding to make travel on county roads safer.
    "I told them I wanted to see more stops."
    Those efforts have paid off with a decrease in traffic accidents. That was surprising because of the number of deer in the county. Sometimes the numbers just change for no reason. It might be the mild winter that has kept deer accidents down.
    Traffic stops went up by over 200 with 2012 stops at 1,737 over 2011 at 1,533.
    Most of the other stats for the county showed very little change up or down over 20ll.
    The other big change was thefts that went from 62 in 2011 down to 21 in 2012.
    Although he is glad to see the numbers down, Chinn said he doesn't get real excited about the drop.
    Statistics are like ocean waves they roll in and out. Why some numbers change doesn't really have a reason, it just happens that way.
    One area that is always high is the number of miles the sheriff's office has to travel to transport prisoners. In 2012 officers made 93 trips to transport 112 prisoners and traveled 18,588 miles across seven states.
    It is not uncommon for the office to travel from 18,000 to 25,000 miles in a year. While they are responsible for the transportation of their own prisoner, the county is also responsible to transport all prisoners after the initial transport even if the city police made the arrest, Chinn said.
    The sheriff's office also has a unique statistic among the county departments. It generates revenue equal to about one quarter of the department budget. In 2012 the office generated $247,500 through housing inmates, registered offender registration, civil process fees, booking fees and so forth.
    Those funds go back into the county general fund and help alleviate some to the tax burden in the county, something Chinn works hard to do within the office.
    Page 2 of 2 - The office also served over 2,000 civil process papers and over 200 arrest warrants were served. Over 200 hours were spent assisting other law enforcement agencies, mostly the Pratt Police Department.
    One important area that has no statistic is working with families to help reduce juvenile crime. Sending a young person to jail or to juvenile intake is not always the right answer.
    That could introduce that young person to people they shouldn't meet so all sheriff's officers are encouraged to seek alternatives when a young person gets in trouble.
    It can help save that young person from getting into worse trouble and help reduce the expense of dealing with juvenile crime.
    Chinn said he could not operate his department without the aid of his outstanding officers and staff.
    The number of other agencies that assisted the department including Pratt Police Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Bureau of Investigation plus many other state, federal and local agencies helped the sheriff's office complete difficult calls they would have much harder or impossible to complete without their help, Chinn said.
    The Numbers
    2012 stats followed by 2011 numbers
    • Incidents requiring a report 600-677
    • Traffic stops 1,737-1,533
    • Assault and battery 7-5
    • Burglary 20-13
    • Domestic violence 12-9
    • DUI 20-10
    • Thefts 21-62
    • Registered offender violations 9-12
    • Rape-sex crimes 4-6
    • Traffic accidents 119-149
    • Fatal accidents 4-7
    • Total calls for service 3,880-3,898 (1995 for traffic complaints and enforcement)
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