Saline county deputies ramp up patrols - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Saline county deputies ramp up patrols

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SALINE CO. -- Sheriff Whipper Johnson and his seven deputies are stepping up efforts to improve public safety. 

The department made 221 traffic stops between January and March of this year. "Anything from speeding, stop sign violations, failure to signal, improper lighting and improper lane usage," Johnson says. 

The number is a 614 percent increase from the same time period last year and part of a progress report recently released by Johnson. 

This year's traffic stops have also led to more traffic arrests, jumping 232 percent. There have also been fewer severe consequences as well. "Sometimes they get citations, sometimes [at the] officer's discretion they get a verbal warning or call a parent," Johnson explains. 

The stops also helped take 129 criminals off the streets.

"You get more drugs and weapons off traffic stops than you do anything else, so if you stop more vehicles not only are you going to get more traffic arrests, you’re going to get more criminal arrests," the sheriff says. 

The department has been able to hire two part-time workers. One helps with paper work and the other checks resident's homes who go out of town and put in a request. 

"Both of these guys that I'm talking about are retirees, so they're not here for the benefit package," Johnson explains. "They're not here for the insurance. They don't want our stuff."

By having these part-time workers, deputies have been able to increase the time that they are out patrolling the county by several hours each day. 

Johnson says he's out patrolling whenever he can, which also motivates the deputies, "Come in daily, do the daily grind here at the office. Then try to get out and patrol and help the guys out." 

He believes that he and deputies being more visible may have also contributed to the 33 percent reduction in traffic crashes. 

The progress report also listed an additional $17,000 from housing additional inmates for Johnson, Pope, Hardin and Gallatin counties. That money is helping to offset the $26,000 loss from some federal inmates leaving the jail.

Sheriff Johnson says any funds from housing inmates or writing citations goes strictly to the county's general fund, "That doesn't go back to the sheriff's office budget that goes to the county general fund, and it just plays a role in trying to get the county's budget back in line because it's pretty dismal."

Johnson says he is in the works of implementing is a $150 administrative tow fee that would bring in an estimated $9,000 each year. The money can be used directly by the sheriff's office for new cars or accessories for their cars.

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