Yadkin County Sheriff Ricky Oliver asked for more community support in reporting crime when he met with Arlington and Jonesville citizens on Tuesday.
Members of the audience in turn called for increased numbers of school resource officers.
Oliver met with several residents at the Arlington Fire Department for one of many community outreaches he is undertaking to boost community involvement.
Oliver told the audience that the sheriff’s office had a limited number of officers to patrol the county. The sheriff’s office has 38 sworn deputies — one per every 1,000 people. And many of them are tasked with prison transport, courthouse security, jail security and serving papers to citizens.
That doesn’t leave many with much time to actually patrol, according to Oliver.
Oliver asked that community members speak up when they see something suspicious, part of being “proactive instead of reactive,” a theme he returned to several times throughout his address.
Oliver said people are unwilling to call in because they are unsure if a threat really exists and “don’t want to bother [the Sheriffs Office].”
He said he would would much rather use office assets for 15 minutes to determine if a situation was a real crime than to spend hours searching a crime scene later, likely to never catch the perpetrators.
“We’re already seeing it work in the county,” Oliver said. “We’ve got people now that are picking up the phone and calling us when something unusual is happening or when they see something that doesn’t look just right. And many times that is resulting in someone getting arrested.”
Oliver said the criminals often have a buyer ready for the stolen goods as soon as they leave the crime scene, further highlighting the need to catch criminals in the act before the items are gone forever.
Oliver spoke to the audience about the goals of his tenure, listing the protection of life and property as the main focus of his time in office. He said his administration was more focused on drugs and protecting the citizens than worrying about “grandmother’s inspection stickers being out.”
Oliver opened the floor to questions and was quickly taken up on his offer. Several members of the audience spoke out about the low number of resource officers stationed at schools. Oliver said the current number of officers is two: one for Starmount High/Middle, and another for Forbush High/Middle.
Although assigned to the high schools, the officers are routinely called to the middle schools.
Residents asked why officers were not posted at elementary schools. Oliver said officers make rounds to the elementary schools that are not in towns with police departments, but leave schools like Boonville, Jonesville and Yadkinville to their local law enforcement members.
Oliver said cuts in Yadkin County’s upcoming budget prevented additional staffing for the time being.
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