When temperatures rise, so does the work load for our local police departments
TRI-CITIES - We reached 90 degrees in the Tri-Cities for only the 4th time in 2017 on Wednesday. Last year, we had a record 62 days of at least 90 degree heat. However, statistics we dug up show that the warmer the weather, the busier our local police departments become.
"The heat does play a role in the increase in the number of calls and arrests our agency makes," Washington County, Virginia Sheriff Fred Newman says.
I sat down with the Sheriff and went over the number of reports and arrests his agency filed between April 1, 2016 and March 31 of 2017. In the first period, which includes last summer, the Washington County, Virginia's Sheriff's Department filed 1,569 reports. That's nearly 20 percent more reports than the next six month period, which includes the winter months. Because of that, Sheriff Newman says he puts extra manpower in the streets during the summer with something he calls "Power Shifts."
"Some guys come in around noon and work until midnight because we know the busier times of the day are the evening, late evening or even early mornings," Sheriff Newman says.
Staffing issues prohibit the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office from increasing patrols in the summer, despite their statistics showing the same trend.
"Heat just makes people miserable," Sullivan County Sheriff's Office Public Information Office Kristen Quon says. "Sometimes that aggression starts to build."
The Sheriff's Office keeps track of their arrest records in quarterly increments. 2016's summer arrest numbers topped the other three quarters by more than 10 percent. One crime that jumped up in particular was vandalism.
"We think that might have to do with your kids and younger adults who are not in school during the summer," Quon says.
Terrance Phillips is the director of the Jacobs Creek Jobs Corps, which tries to stop people ages 16 to 24 from becoming part of these statistics.
"In the summer months students are out of school and you find those idol hands are becoming the devils workshop," Phillips says.
The Jobs Corps teaches students vocational, academic, and social development skills.
"We find that to be the key to success," he says. "That's one of the elements that finds these young folks in trouble is the lack of social development."
For more information on the Jacobs Creek Jobs Corps, click here.