The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has a great working relationship with our law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies throughout the county. We collaborate in many ways to bring a team approach to emergency services while sharing people and resources. Our collaborative efforts include a multi-agency emergency response team, the Johnson County Metro Bomb Team, Johnson County Metro Dive Team, and the Johnson County Hazardous Materials Response Team to name a few. In addition we also engage in training with our local volunteer fire departments to prepare for emergencies like water rescues and auto extrication. And, our local law enforcement agencies routinely share information and communicate to solve crimes and close cases.
Johnson County should be proud of the way local emergency services work together to promote public safety and government efficiency. As your next Sheriff I will continue our record of collaboration with our public safety partners and seek new opportunities to connect with other community stakeholders to better serve Johnson County.
Throughout my career as a deputy sheriff I have witnessed the effects of domestic violence on victims and survivors as well as their children. Through my experience at the Sheriff’s Office I’ve gained insight through interacting with offenders in the jail and by investigating domestic violence while on patrol and as an detective. But domestic violence is more than a criminal justice issue, it is also a public health issue. Everyday in this country approximately four women are murdered by an intimate partner and women of color are affected at disproportionately higher rates. We have to take a stand.
As a law enforcement agency we have to do more to protect and empower victims and survivors while building better cases to hold abusers accountable. A victim focused, trauma informed approach to domestic and intimate partner violence will better serve victims and survivors while promoting the justice they deserve. Through the use of offender threat assessments we will continue to provide data to the court about the potential offender lethality. As Sheriff, I will establish a comprehensive domestic violence protocol for calls and cases involving domestic and intimate partner violence. This protocol will include case reviews and follow-up contact by a detective from our Investigations Division, solid interviews and evidence collection at the time the report is made, and ensuring that we connect with an advocate early in the case to provide more support for survivors.
By increasing our efforts on domestic and intimate partner violence cases we will have a positive impact for victims, survivors, their children, and the community while doing our part to ensure abusers are held accountable. We must do more to empower victims and build trust within the community to move forward and better serve victims of domestic violence. This is a tangible goal the Sheriff’s Office can achieve by prioritization, policy change, and increased training and will affirm my commitment to victim advocacy and public safety.
Computer Forensics and Cyber Crime Task Force
Technology is constantly changing our lives and we are increasingly connected through our phones, our apps, and our data. This means crime and criminal activity are also connected to technology and as an investigator I see this connection almost daily.
Technology and crime are so interconnected that, whether it’s harassment, human trafficking, or homicide, cell phones are often the most common and most important piece of evidence in a case. Law enforcement often relies on cell phones and data to solve burglaries, assess threats, and even investigate fatal traffic crashes.
Additionally, cell phones have been directly responsible for the proliferation of child pornography, and criminals are increasingly using technology as abusers and as predators who rely on cell phones and apps to pursue, harass, and stalk victims.
This means that we must do more to ensure we have staff trained and certified to collect and examine digital evidence. We need to have the people, training, and equipment in place to step up our efforts against child pornography, human trafficking, and other crimes that increasingly have a cyber or technology element.
As Sheriff, I will work with local law enforcement agencies to formalize a computer forensics and cyber crime task force. By collaborating with our local partners we can share people and resources to work together in our efforts against cyber crime. The number of cases is so great, it has created overburdened state resources available to us. We have to do more locally.
By implementing a computer forensics and cyber crime task force, we can have an impact on crime locally through collaboration.
Through my experience as a detective with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office I have seen again and again how technology is used to victimize and how important it is to make computer forensics a priority. The connection between crime and technology is ever changing and we need to work together to fight back.
Deputies are frequently called to help during mental-health and substance-abuse crises where traditional law-enforcement tools and solutions don’t always work or provide the best outcome. As Sheriff, I want to make sure we have better options to help reduce recidivism and incarceration while connecting people with services in the community.
The Johnson County Jail Alternatives Program, for example, has worked for 15 years to connect people with services instead of incarceration. Through the hard work of the jail alternatives staff our county has a successful and robust program that reduces recidivism while lowering the jail population and better serving people struggling with substance abuse or mental illness.
More recently, the Sheriff’s office implemented Crisis Intervention Training, giving law enforcement and first responders another — often better —tool to help those during a mental health crisis or struggling with addiction.
And soon, the under-construction GuideLink Center, a partnership among local stakeholders providing mental-health crisis services, substance-abuse services, and a sobering unit, will offer a place where people can be connected with services and and a crisis can be de-escalated. It will serve law enforcement well when we’re called to intervene during a mental-health or substance-abuse crisis, when neither jail nor the emergency room is the right option.
I’m excited about the opportunity to be a strong partner with the GuideLink Center, and I fully support our Jail Alternatives Program and CIT training; as Sheriff, I will ensure that these programs are sustained and strengthened because they are key to keeping people connected to services and safely de-escalating tense encounters. I will also work to build connections and relationships between the Sheriff’s Office and the non-profit community to further our efforts to lower recidivism and connect instead of incarcerate.