Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown spoke to the Rotary Club of Waxahachie Thursday, Nov. 21 about a variety of law enforcement-related topics in Ellis County and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.
Brown, who took office in January 2009, started with the statistics to show the crime as reported to the FBI in 2008 and currently in 2013.
The statistics show that crime is down 53.06 percent. In 2008, the crimes reported to the FBI totaled 1,078 and year to date, in 2013, 506 cases have been reported.
The types of crimes reported to the FBI include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and auto theft.
There are additional crime categories that are not reported to the FBI to include drug- and alcohol-related offenses, criminal mischief and public integrity crimes.
Brown allowed the majority of his time to be spent in a town hall type setting where Rotarians were able to ask questions of him concerning his office and crime.
In responding to questions as to why he believes there is a decrease in the number of crimes committed, Brown stated that he believes part of the reason is an increase in the number of patrol deputies on the streets during a shift.
In 2009, there were three deputies per shift. Brown has reorganized the sheriff’s office to now have seven deputies per shift to include a sergeant and corporal. At this time, the sheriff’s office employs 224 employees, including detention officers. Of that number, 100 are sworn deputies.
Additionally, Brown attributes the decrease in crime to the specialized training given to his investigators on specific types of cases. To be qualified as a deputy, a person must have completed a law enforcement academy and go through a stringent background check and physical agility test.
When asked about the jail and jail privatization issue, Brown stated that he was the first person to mention privatization of the jail as a possible way to try to save county resources. However, after researching and talking with other counties that have private jails, he determined that it was not for Ellis County.
The county jail has a total capacity of about 878 inmates. Currently, 422 inmates are detained in the facility. This not only includes Ellis County Sheriff’s Office arrests but also all municipalities within Ellis County if the charge is a Class B misdemeanor or above.
The newest portion of the jail is a pod design with direct supervision of inmates.
Direct supervision occurs when the detention officer actually stays in the pod cells with the inmates and not in a control room. This allows the officers to see and detect problems that are occurring quicker and to respond accordingly.
Brown has instituted a number of successful programs since 2009. The Youth Explorer Program is a division of the Boy Scouts of American and open to youth who may have an interest in a law enforcement career.
The Explorers meet every Tuesday night at the Law Enforcement Center.
Additionally, the inmates have a voluntary work program where they mow and maintain county property, pick up trash, wash sidewalks, plant a garden, sew, cook and embroider clothing. Anyone accused of a violent offense is not allowed to work outside of the jail. Those inmates working outside the jail are supervised by officers and are shackled.
The sheriff’s office currently has one K-9, Jax, and is hoping to add an additional K-9 in the near future.
The K-9 is an additional tool for deputies and provides a valuable resource in locating narcotics, tracking suspects and providing support for deputies. The K-9 and handlers go through extensive training to be certified. Jax has competed in competitions and has been nationally recognized.
Brown welcomes all citizens to participate in the Civilian Ride Along Program to see exactly what a deputy does during a shift and welcomes all visitors to the detention facility for tours.
For more information about the Rotary Club of Waxahachie, where we believe in Service above Self and doing things as a club we cannot do alone, visit the club website www.waxahachierotary.org. You can find your flag subscription application there.