JoCo Sheriff: OWI Investigations Up, Population Down

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - The number of arrests for operating while intoxicated was up last year in Johnson County.

The annual report from the sheriff's office shows 280 arrests in 2017. The sheriff's report also shows that drug violations almost doubled in two years, going from 62 in 2015 to 121 last year.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek sat down with TV9 Wednesday and said it's not an awareness issue anymore.

"People know that drunk driving is dangerous and the majority of people know that if they've been drinking they shouldn't drive. It seems that there's just more people likely ignoring that," said Pulkrabek.

Pulkrabek says Johnson County's OWI investigations typically include drinking and marijuana, but not typically stronger opioids.

Meanwhile, the Johnson County Jail is housing, on average, fewer inmates each day, and it’s spending nearly a half a million dollars less on certain inmates. The sheriff’s office released it annual report yesterday. That was almost 100 more than the number two years earlier in 2015.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek tells me he thinks the system is doing a better job of getting people out and not returning.

Pulkrabek says the county is still spending a lot of money because of the number of people that must be transported to another county. In 2015, that expense came with a million dollar price tag. While that number dropped to 475 thousand dollars last year, he says it's still a lot.

When it comes to the jail population, in 2017, the report shows on average there were around 88 people a day behind bars. Compare that to 2015, when they maintained about 109 people per day. Bookings have also gone down since 2015 by almost 150 people. Either way, the Sheriff says he expects the downward trend to soon come to a end.

"I think we're sort of settling in and finding that level mark for the long term. I still think that it will still go back up. I think we've seen the bottom and we'll see an increase just because we continue to grow," said Pulkrabek.

Pulkabek also tells TV-9 that instead of focusing on a new jail, the county's focus this year will be to put together the Behavioral Health Access Center. It's a place where trained officers can handle people with mental health and addiction issues, and get them out of jail. It's a place where trained officers can handle people with mental health and addiction issues, and get them out of jai.The sheriff's office and city have been working on the project for the last couple of years.

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