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Sheriff's report: 911 complaints up, crime down

Last year, the Island County Sheriff’s Office spent more money to investigate more criminal complaints than ever before. But the county’s crime rate was barely higher in 2000 than in 1999, which meant that sheriff’s deputies and detectives used more of their time and the county’s money to pursue dead-end calls.

This is not necessarily a bad situation, said Sheriff Mike Hawley Wednesday as he commented on his agency’s recently-published annual report. Though he expects the increasing 911 call volume to leave his office short of funds and possibly short of deputy patrol hours in 2002, Hawley said he is pleased that county citizens are reporting criminal behavior. A total of 22,909 calls to his office yielded 2,576 arrest, an all-time high for the sheriff’s office and 52 more arrests than in 1999.

The largest increases in citizen complaints in 2000 came as a result of nuisance crimes: barking dogs, gunshots, abandoned vehicles, and illegal dumping. Hawley said the growing population of Island County has less and less tolerance for noise and other disturbances, so people are dialing 911 as their first response.

“There are more people moving here from an urban environment where they were used to calling 911,” he said.

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