During January, we like to give you a summary of our activity the previous year. As we  begin the New Year and work to complete our year-end statistics and annual report that will be presented in the coming month to the Cass County Board of Commissioners and published on our website, I would like to share a recap of our activities during 2019. This is a snapshot of some of the activities performed by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office during the past year.

Our method of documenting activity, calls and reports is in the form of an Initial Complaint Report (ICR). These are also sometimes referred to as Calls For Service (CFS). ICRs are a variety of calls for service that our dispatch center receives that require some sort of action — whether it is from a sheriff’s deputy, a local police department, an ambulance or fire department. These also include self-initiated responses from officers.

In 2019, we documented 22,249 ICRS. This number was up slightly from 2018 as we reorganized some recordkeeping methods for verbal and written warnings, specifically in our recreational division. The increase does not necessarily mean an increase in crime, rather an increase in reported activity.

Our phone lines are busy. In 2019, we processed 58,166 911 calls; 95 percent of these calls came to us from a cellular phone. As landlines become a thing of the past, it is important for our cell phone callers to be able to provide clear and important information needed to get you the help that you need. Our busiest call time is from 3 to 8 p.m., with this time period receiving approximately half of the total calls. Saturday was, on average, our busiest call volume day with Monday and Wednesday tied for being the least call volumes.

The patrol division continues to be very busy.  In 2019, our patrol division was mostly up to full staff. A strong economy led to higher traffic and tourism numbers in our area than the last several years. Cass County is a busy place, with lots of events happening, that require certain responses from our staff. We are proud that we are up to full staff, equipped and current on training and trends to be able to respond to these events and incidents appropriately. Deputies continue to maintain an excellent countywide response time to emergency calls and spend a significant amount of time investigating and following up on these calls.

Our Investigations Division has processed and investigated several cases which have led to many case referrals to the County Attorney’s Office for charging and prosecution. Our investigators meet with child protection teams daily to review intakes. They also work closely with intake and social workers investigating allegations of abuse and maltreatment. Deputies completed 740 random predatory offender checks on between 125 to 135 Level Unassigned, 1, 2, and 3 offenders living in our county.

Our deputies also attend city and township meetings, as well as community and school events and functions, which helps to promote our community policing platform within our agency. Sheriff Outreach Days in Cass Lake and Fairview Township were once again held throughout the year.  This involves moving our office to other areas in the county for a few hours each month giving citizens the opportunity to visit with staff from the sheriff’s office and talk about public safety and other concerns in their neighborhoods.

Unique and extreme weather challenges continue to keep us busy. From spring flooding and ice dams on the Crow Wing River to fall monsoons and radio and cell phone upgrades, our Emergency Management Division was very active. We used the Eelpout Festival as a functional test of the Sheriff’s Office Command Trailer. Dispatchers used the trailer as a dispatch center for calls relating to Eelpout. This was a test of the Dispatch Coop Plan. We conducted the test as if dispatch center had issues and was shut down. We tested portable dispatch computers and additional equipment. This provided dispatchers an orientation to the command trailer and its functions, and how it will serve in an actual shutdown or failure.

You may have seen our STS Crew out working throughout Cass County this past year. 2019 was another busy and exciting year for the program. The year began with lots of snow. The STS crew continued to shovel snow for our community’s tax exempt and Cass County building locations. Spring finally came and unfortunately it started to flood along the Crow Wing River, with the Pillager and Motley areas most affected. The STS program worked with townships in the areas affected by filling sandbags.

Residences located in the affected areas were able to then pick up the sandbags from the local townships. The STS Crew has continued mowing for the USFS, DNR, Tax Exempt and Cass County properties. A total of 6,281 hours were spent working on projects, completing several projects and giving participants some skills to use upon their release, as well as an opportunity to work off jail time and fines.

Our services are complemented and assisted by our many volunteer groups that work with us to bring public safety initiatives to Cass County, including the Lakes Area Dive Team, Chaplaincy Initiative, TRIAD, Volunteer Boat and Water Patrols, ATV Search and Rescue, Mounted Posse and our Emergency Services Board.

This is just a snapshot of our activity. As we piece together the stats and records, our finalized annual report will be completed next month and made available on our website.  Once again, we are privileged and grateful to have served the residents and visitors of Cass County in 2019 and years past. We look forward to serving you and are committed to providing law enforcement and public safety needs to our communities in 2020.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, contact me anytime: e-mail tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us; call (218) 547-1424  or (800) 450-2677; or mail Cass County Sheriff’s Office, 303 Minnesota Ave W, P.O. Box 1119, Walker, MN 56484

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