Sheriff’s Department presents annual report to county commissioners

Homicides in 2019 already exceed county’s 2018 numbers

THREE RIVERS – During Wednesday’s St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners Executive Committee meeting, St. Joseph County Undersheriff Mark Lillywhite presented on the Sheriff’s Department’s 2018 annual report.
Lillywhite began the presentation by breaking down the types of calls into four categories: Non-criminal complaints, crimes against persons, crimes against property, non-criminal crimes, and miscellaneous criminal offenses. Lillywhite said there were 2,484 non-criminal complaint calls in 2018, which made up 52 percent of the calls to the Sheriff’s Department, with half of those calls being about suspicious persons.
There were 388 calls about crimes against persons in the county in 2018, including one case of homicide, a number which Lillywhite said has already been exceeded in 2019. The highest number of calls in that category were non-aggravated/domestic calls, of which there were 307.
Lillywhite said there were a total of 571 property crime calls and 1,343 miscellaneous criminal calls in 2018. Of those categories, larceny (167 calls) and disorderly conduct (347 calls) respectively were the leading number in those categories.
For traffic statistics, Lillywhite said there were 1,233 civil infractions handed out by the Sheriff’s Department in 2018, 177 misdemeanor citations, and 466 verbal warnings. In terms of accidents, the department handled 494 car-deer accidents, 396 accidents with no injuries, 156 accidents with injuries, 50 each of hit-and-run and operating while intoxicated incidents, and nine fatal accidents. Lillywhite said the number fatal accidents were up from 2017, but not by “an alarming number,” while car-deer accidents stayed around the same.
Third District Commissioner and Commission Chair Dennis Allen asked Lillywhite if he knew how many of the traffic situations involved texting. Lillywhite said he did not have those numbers, and it’s sometimes hard to determine if it’s the case.
“Our guys do a good job, they’ll write it if they can articulate it, but unless they take their phone and go through it forensically or if they admit it, it’s really hard to cite it,” Lillywhite said.
Lillywhite then detailed the Marine Patrol report, which showed how many hours were spent patrolling each lake, which totaled 999 1/2 hours in 2018. The majority of the patrol time was spent on Klinger Lake and Corey Lake with 128 hours and 107 hours respectively. Meanwhile, the Marine Patrol had an additional 91 hours of activity, with 25 hours of training and 23 hours of Regatta Patrol. Lillywhite said three boats are used for patrol, while Fabius Township has a boat of their own they use.

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