Violent crimes dropped 5.4 percent last year in Rutherford County, said Sheriff Robert Arnold.
"We are excited our enforcement efforts reduced violent crimes with only slight increases in less serious crimes," Sheriff Arnold said. "We continue to provide service at an outstanding level, but we do need help (in staffing). I have to be the advocate for the Sheriff's Office and the people of Rutherford County.
"The Sheriff's Office remains very proactive in reducing crime," Sheriff Arnold said. "Our goal is to make Rutherford County the safest county in Tennessee with the resources provided."
Sheriff's officers wrote 16,074 reports in 2014, an increase of 603 more reports or 3.8 percent from 2013. Overall crime increased a slight 2.3 percent.
In the violent crimes, one man lost his life due to homicide. Victim Charles Light, 29, of Auburntown, died Aug. 11 at a home at Amerson Court off Old Woodbury Highway. Wendy Whittemore, 55, of Jakes Avenue suffered a gunshot wound.
Responding patrol deputies took suspect Justin Odom, 23, of Amerson Court into custody at the scene until detectives investigated. Detective Jamin Humphress charged Odom with first-degree murder and attempted murder. Odom is awaiting trial.
The homicide rate stayed the same as last year with one murder case. Detectives arrested a suspect in the 2013 homicide of Jackie Warpoole, 47, of Smyrna, who was killed Dec. 15, 2013 on Interstate 24.
Rapes and robberies increased slightly.
Maj. Bill Sharp, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division, said the rape cases included date rape and statutory rape with the majority of the rapes involving people who knew each other.
Aggravated assaults dropped significantly from 195 in 2013 to 124 in 2014. Burglaries and auto burglaries increased while thefts, auto thefts and arsons decreased.
Maj. Sharp linked the increase in burglaries to the rising population growth.
Sheriff Arnold said detectives followed up on numerous leads and made several arrests in December, solving a number of burglaries, including one set of burglars accused of breaking into homes in several states. Detectives recovered $343,449 in stolen property.
"To reduce crime, we send patrol deputies and the Active Crime Enforcement Unit to saturate the area and show a concentrated presence to reduce the crime," Sheriff Arnold said.
Although auto burglaries dropped, Maj. Sharp said the number could decrease even more if people locked the doors of vehicles and refrained from leaving valuable items in plain sight in vehicles. Many of the auto burglaries were attributed to juveniles.
In the less serious crime category, fraud cases jumped significantly. Fraud includes identity theft and scams.
Detective Lt. Todd Sparks said there seem to be more opportunities to commit fraud with technology and online shopping.
"It's the new way of people obtaining goods and money without doing work," Lt. Sparks said.
Many victims are tricked by telephone calls asking for personal information such as credit cards and Social Security numbers. Other callers threaten victims with arrest and guide them into buying green dot cards, which are used for immediate cash.
Maj. Sharp urged people not to fall for the scams.
"You should never give out your Social Security number or credit card numbers to people who call," Maj. Sharp said.
One of the major crimes reported to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office is domestic violence calls. Domestic assaults dipped by 20.
The Family Crimes Unit detectives work proactively with domestic violence victims and offenders to stop the crime in households. Detectives call the victims of verbal domestic abuse immediately and offer services such as family counseling to intervene before the abuse becomes physical.
Tennessee's Office of Criminal Justice Programs funds the salary of one detective to handle domestic violence, sex crimes, stalking and harassment cases to stop crimes against women. The detective whose salary is funded by the grant investigated 260 cases last year. The grant funding expires this year.
In other annual reports,
- Criminal Investigations Maj. Sharp said detectives investigated 2,617 cases and made 244 arrests. A detective also monitors 86 sex offenders as mandated by state law.
- Records and Warrants Maj. Guy Goff said civil warrants deputies received 20,437 civil (non-criminal) warrants and served 13,932 civil warrants. Records employees recorded 16,074 reports, conducted 4,906 background checks, expunged 2,106 court-ordered criminal records and handled 3,273 gun permits.
- Patrol Maj. Egon Grissom said patrol deputies responded to 36,357 calls for service. Deputies transported 1,194 people for emergency mental health committals, helped on 3,589 ambulance assists and answered 1,803 unfounded alarms and eight founded alarms. The K-9 unit apprehended 46 suspects. Also, Senior Citizens Awareness Network volunteers conducted 885 visits to senior citizens and helped them with their health and safety needs.
- Detention Maj. Tommy Thompson said 16,098 inmates were booked into the Adult Detention Center and 269,187 people were screened into the Judicial Building and Juvenile Court/Detention. Deputies made 12,789 transports of inmates.
- School Resource Officer Maj. Jacoby O'Gwynn reported SROS made 294 arrests, conducted 35,885 advisory sessions with families, parents, teachers and law enforcement and at school and recovered $15,823 in stolen property.