Drug-related arrest up 8% in Sparta
Drug-related arrests increased 8% in the City of Sparta during 2018, but requests for police assistance dropped by 1,500 calls.
That's according to the Sparta Police Department's 2018 annual report, which Police Chief Dave Kuderer presented to the Sparta City Council Wednesday.
Drug-related crimes accounted for 22% of arrests the police department made in 2018. That was only exceeded by crimes against government (offenses like resisting arrest, probation violations, arrest warrants and bail jumping), which made up 28% of arrests.
The highest number of drug-related arrests, 35%, were for possession of drug paraphernalia, while 23% were for marijuana possession.
Kuderer said there was a 4% increase in arrests of people charged with dealing drugs.
The highest number of drug-related arrests came from the 16-21 age group with 29 being the average age for drug offenders. The oldest offender was 62 and the youngest was 14.
There were 144 arrests for marijuana possession and 78 for methamphetamine. In 2018, the department seized a total of 3.3 pounds of marijuana and 269 grams of methamphetamine. Around 45% of drug arrests result from traffic stops.
According to Kuderer, there has been a 27% increase in methamphetamine arrests since 2016, and it has gone up 18% since last year.
He said his officers have to carry Narcan, a life-saving medication given to overdose victims, and have administered it to one individual 13 times.
"She's overdosed 13 times and now carries her own Narcan," said Kuderer.
He said hard-drug use fluctuates between methamphetamine and heroin, depending on what is cheaper at any given time.
"There's a lot of heroin and a lot of meth in the area and it's not getting any better."
A big part of the problem, he said, is a lack of resources in Monroe County for those who want to quit. The drugs are highly addictive, often taking only one time to develop a craving for the high, and withdrawal is painful.
Treatment is intensive and can take years, he added.
The report also shows a drop in officers' overtime, which decreased by 241 hours. Of the 3,904 overtime hours logged in 2018, 40% were to cover shift shortages due in part to vacancies.
That's equivalent to about $101,000 in overtime based on a $26-an-hour beginning officer's salary, according to Kuderer.
The shortages were due to one officer being on a military deployment while two positions became vacant. Kuderer said two candidates finishing up coursework at WTC have accepted offers for employment with the department and he's looking into a part-time position to help offset overtime hours.
Of the traffic stops conducted by Sparta police, 60% resulted in warnings, while only 31% resulted in citations. Half of those citations were either for driving without a license or having no proof of insurance. Another 14%, or 136 arrests, were for drunk driving with the average blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of violators at .156, double the legal limit.
There also were 36 arrest for driving under the influence of a controlled substance with half of those related to marijuana.