Moniteau County Sheriff Tony Wheatley reported Monday the office's stats for the past year.
The vast majority of crimes with stats tabulated by the sheriff's office in 2020 decreased in frequency compared to the previous year in 2019. Calls for service also saw a decrease for the second year in a row; 2020's total of 6,345 calls represented a decrease in calls by more than 2,000 compared to the 8,522 in 2019.
Crimes handled by the sheriff's office in the last year were as follows: Suspicious activity investigated - 182, down 51 from last year; vehicle pursuits - eight, down three from last year; alarm calls - 56, down five from last year; animal complaints - 156, down 38 from last year; domestics - 66, down 26 from last year; felony assaults - five; misdemeanor assaults - 16, up 10 from last year; outside agency assists - 790; trespass - 30, down 14 from last year; stranded motorist - 61, down 81 from last year; missing person/juveniles - 20, up two from last year; motor vehicle crashes - 62, down 33 from last year; peace disturbances - 18, down four from last year; pedestrian checks - 41, down 53 from last year; paper service - 780, down 89 from last year; public assists - 101, down 30 from last year; suicidal subjects - 45, up nine from last year; abandoned vehicles - 23, down 59 from last year; animal bites - 13, down five from last year; weapons offenses - 12, down eight from last year; property damage - 11, down seven from last year; check well being - 92, down 23 from last year; harassment - 44, down 41 from last year; fraud - 17, up two from last year; recovered stolen vehicles - nine, up one from last year; felony thefts - nine; misdemeanor thefts - 17, up six from last year; burglary - seven, down one from last year; felony drug arrest - 94, down nine from last year; and misdemeanor drug arrest - 33, down five from last year.
The drug arrest total was 127, down 14 from last year. The sheriff's office also arrested 42 individuals on warrants, 35 on other felony arrests, and 32 on misdemeanor arrests. The total number of arrests was 236, down eight from last year.
There were no homicides in the county during the past year. The sheriff's office booked more than 890 people into the Moniteau County Jail in 2020.
Calls for service
In a release, Wheatley said service calls decreased in total during 2020; that number includes proactive vehicle checks by deputies. He said the decrease is a direct result of the decreased crime rate countywide, and partially due to increased patrols in rural areas. The office's numbers for assisting other agencies jumped significantly last year, per the release.
Moniteau County's crime rate has remained at a steady low following a slight overall decrease again this year, Wheatley said. Crime rates for a few areas — fraud, misdemeanor theft and misdemeanor assault, for example — did see small bumps. Wheatley said the fraud numbers should actually be higher than reported due to a high number of calls related to phone and internet scams.
Wheatley said Moniteau County is doing well, especially compared to other nearby counties.
"Talking to other central Missouri jurisdictions, I can say that we currently have one of the lowest crime rates in Central Missouri," Wheatley said in the release. "Most jurisdictions in our area have seen a steady rise in overall crime this year, with one seeing a 37 percent increase."
Wheatley said Moniteau County's positioning beside multiple larger counties — Boone and Cole, plus Miller and Morgan to the south — means some spillover in criminal activity as a result, but deputies do a good job in making proactive patrols and enforcement to keep problems from other jurisdictions out.
Wheatley said Moniteau County continues to enforce a zero tolerance drug policy within the county. The county's total drug arrests are slightly down this year once again, and he said the office continually sees a decrease in drug-related offenses year to year.
"I believe our proactive approach to this problem has accounted for our low crime rate within the county," Wheatley said in the release. "We will continue these efforts with targeted patrols and investigations. We are also very lucky to have a community who stands behind our law enforcement and cares about their fellow neighbors. We are still continually receiving calls for suspicious activity all over the county and we encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to give us a call."
Wheatley said the Sheriff's Office is currently working with the Moniteau County Commission on its budget for 2021. Starting in 2018, the office boosted its patrol staff to curb some issues at the time.
This increase in patrol staff was much overdue, Wheatley said.
"We have two deputies per shift to cover the 419 square miles of the county with 24-hour coverage," Wheatley said in the release. "Looking at county revenues, it would have been next to impossible to keep this level of protection without the help of the community. Thanks to the (passage) of Proposition P, we are working with the county commission on budgets to try and retain our law enforcement officers and jail staff."
Wheatley said the help of Moniteau County citizens was crucial in the Sheriff's Office's work in recent years.
"I believe over the last four years we have grown as a department, and have strived to make Moniteau County a better place to live and work," Wheatley said. "We owe a large part of this to the citizens of Moniteau County, who give us the support and encouragement we need to get the job done. I wish to thank all of the citizens of the county for their support and want them to know that we will be there in their time of need."