Senior Staff Writer
Arrests were up last month in Durant and Police Chief Gary Rudick said several of those arrested were repeat offenders who had been released from jail due to a desire to keep the jail populations down, according to the Durant Police Department's report for May.
According to the report, there were 164 arrests, compared to 102 arrests in May 2006. In May of this year, officers investigated 29 assaults, 22 burglaries and 57 larcenies. In May 2006, there were 22 assaults, 18 burglaries and 39 larcenies.
“The large number of arrests for this month is disturbing since several of those arrests are repeat offenders released from jail due to the desire to keep jail population numbers low,” Rudick said in the report. “Bond amounts have been lowered in many cases, leading to early release, which results in more offenses by the same people, repeat arrests, etc.”
The county operates two jails, the main jail at the courthouse and the auxiliary jail across from the Durant Police Department. Each jail has a capacity of approximately 62 inmates. The jails are overseen by a county Jail Trust Authority, and Rudick is a member of that board.
Jail populations have been in the 70s and 80s recently, but had been as high as 1the 120s. Rudick believes that lower jail populations have spiked the crime rates.
Jail Administrator John Kidman disagreed and said that is not the reason the crime rate is up. He said that the prisoners who have been released are for offenses such as DUI, driving under suspension or drug possession, and that the jail is being wrongly blamed for a crime increase.
In other issues, traffic crashes have also increased. The heavy rain and flooding were cited as factors in the collisions. Officers responded to 64 automobile accidents, compared to 52 crashes in May of last year. Police wrote 800 citations last month, a figure that includes written warnings.
Durant Police reserves provided security during the recent Magnolia Festival. According to Rudick's report, the officers did make some arrests at the event, but most were for minor offenses that did not detract from the family atmosphere.
Lt. Sonny Stewart recently graduated from the OSBI Investigators School. He was one of only two officers in the state allowed to attend the training. Stewart graduated the first five weeks with the top score from more than 35 attendees who took the final exam.
The county communications center received 3,740 calls for service. In May 2006, the center received 3,017 calls.