2018 was busy year for sheriff’s office; new K-9 purchased.
By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.
LUDINGTON — Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole presented his department’s annual report to the Mason County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning.
Cole said that 2018 was a “very active year for the Mason County Sheriff’s Office. We had our first drowning in four years, when 38 year-old Jay Cutter of Manistee passed away in Pere Marquette Lake,” he said referring to the June drowning.
Cole said seven people died in seven separate traffic crashes. Four of those fatalities occurred after Nov. 1 and only one took place on a state highway, when Jordan James, 20, of Pentwater died after being struck by three vehicles as he crossed US 10-31, east of Meyers Road on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.
Cole contributed the efforts by the Michigan Department of Transportation, in cooperation of the sheriff’s office, as part of the reduction. He said three digital speed display signs were installed on US 10-31 between Scottville and Ludington in 2018. There were nine traffic fatalities in 2017.
Cole said the department declared an “all call” on Aug. 8 to proactively respond to a pending storm. He said eight off duty deputies responded to work to assist with road clearing and blocking roads. He said many of the deputies even brought their own chain saws to help firefighters and road commission crews clear roads.
“The efforts proved well as there was not one single injury during that event, which still shows signs of taking place to this day.,” Cole said.
The sheriff’s office worked two major break-in rings early in the year, both in March. Two subjects were arrested in connection with several home invasions in Sheridan and Branch townships. Search warrants executed during the investigation yielded numerous items that had been reported stolen; all recovered property was returned to their owners, Cole said.
A second rash of break-ins involved nine businesses in Amber and Pere Marquette townships and resulted in the arrests of a male and female following an all-night foot chase and K-9 track. The male subject, Scott Phelps, was eventually sentenced to six to 50 years in prison.
Cole said the sheriff’s office saw an increase in violent crimes, which included sexual assaults and armed robberies. “We also saw an increase in methamphetamine arrests, fugitive arrests and probation and parole arrests, all while seeing a decrease in inmates booked into the county jail (1,188 in 2017 and 991 in 2018). This tells me there are more individuals who are receiving, and violating, probation then serving time upfront in jail.”
More assaults occurred on deputies in 2018 and there were more failure to register as sex offender arrests then in the previous year. Our drunk and drugged driving arrests were down, but high blood alcohol content drunk driver arrests were up, Cole said.
“Drug overdose deaths were down from five to two as were suicide deaths and narcan uses. However, overall death investigations were up 38 compared to 20 in 2017.
Cole said the sheriff’s office gave away 100 child safety seat in 2018. The department’s budget also came in substantially lower in 2018, over $100,000 total.”
Cole credited the work of Undersheriff Derrek Wilson, and chief deputies Oscar Davila and Ken VanSickle. He said a major decrease in expenses was the cooperative prison transport system that is now in place with Manistee and Oceana counties. The three counties now share the transportation of prisoners.
Commission Lew Squires commended the sheriff on the professionalism of the sheriff’s office and praised Cole’s leadership.
In other sheriff’s office news, the county commission approved the purchase of a new K-9 dog and approved that current K-9 dog, Cash, be allowed to live its retirement with its handler, Dep. Ken Baum.
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