Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin said Thursday that his office is looking at the statistics of 2016 and seeking ways to improve.
Martin said there was a 15 percent increase in overall crime reports taken in Delaware County last year for a total of 7259 and said that 2016’s two most reported crimes were theft and domestic situations.
“Thefts were up seven percent over 2015,” Martin said. “But that really equates to just 36 more thefts.”
Martin said there was a slight uptick in thefts during the holiday season because of the increased number of stores at Tanger Factory Outlet Center, but said the increase was “not statistically significant.”
Martin said to combat thefts in stores, the sheriff’s office has recently met with dozens of store managers to discuss best practices to combat theft and information they should try to collect, like license plate numbers, when they are stolen from.
The Dec. 4 murder-suicide of a Lewis Center husband and wife serves to highlight the continuing trend of domestic violence in the county, Martin said.
“My desire is to see us get that shelter up and running here in Delaware,” Martin said. Martin said Delaware County is the largest county in Ohio that doesn’t have a domestic violence shelter and said the county has needed one for years.
Turning Point, a nonprofit organization that runs a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Marion began a campaign in September to raise $2.3 million to fund a Delaware shelter. Officials said at the time that the property and building have been purchased but funds are needed to make needed renovations.
Martin said the campaign has raised $1.1 million and is still ongoing. Martin hopes that once the shelter is open victims of domestic violence will have a safe place to stay rather than staying with their abusers.
Additionally, Martin said that in 2016 the sheriff’s office began a two-caller verification system to reduce the number of false alarm burglaries that deputies respond to. Ninety-nine percent of burglary calls received in 2015 were false alarms, Martin said.
As a result of the verification system and working with residents to learn how their home alarms work, false alarms fell by 140. Martin said this saved the sheriff’s office around 780 man hours.
“We wanted a bigger reduction but we are heading in the right direction,” Martin said.
Martin said the biggest change at the sheriff’s office has been restructuring and including more checks and balances to keep everyone accountable.
“The intent was to take some capacity I had at the staff level and push it down to get more auditing and review and accountability around the office,” Martin said. “These are things that add to professionalizing what we’re trying to do. It really does change the overall structure of the office. My intent is to make sure we are getting eyes on every operation in the office. It takes supervision. It takes oversight.”
While the role of law enforcement is still being discussed on many venues across the country, Martin said the sheriff’s office believes the county supports them.
“I believe, by and large, that we have the support and trusts of our residents because for years we’ve been trying to do the right things in our county,” Martin said. “We see our role as a partner in the community. Our deputies have experienced more appreciation and confirmation from our community in the last year.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.