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Sheriff’s office releases its end-of-year report

January 3, 2013

CARL GOTWALD

BROOKVILLE — During the fiscal year 2012, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office performed numerous duties and support to the communities of Jefferson County and issued the following report:

The office continues to operate and conduct a busy schedule with a small but well-trained professional staff of deputies and administrative staff. With an increase in some duties performed by the office, the Sheriff’s 
Office was able to increase the number of full-time deputies to seven.

The Sheriff’s Office issued 2,336 permits for concealed carry, with there again being many new, first-time applicants. This represents an increase of over 1,000 permits from the prior year. The office did have a jump in numbers after Sandy Hook but nowhere near the numbers being seen in some counties.

The Sheriff’s Office is also responsible for the issuance of licenses to purchase precious metals. In 2012, there were three licenses issued. One business was revoked by the Sheriff’s Office because of 
bad business practices and eventual bankruptcy. The office to date has no knowledge of anyone losing their money or valuables in Jefferson County to this dealer.

The Sheriff’s Office is also responsible for maintaining a record of all 27 licensed FFL dealers within Jefferson County and issuing them state licenses to sell within the county. The county license supplies them with the required dealer number and PIN to call in a sale or transfer of a firearm and is good for a period of three years.

Under the duties of the office, the deputies served 453 civil complaints and other court-ordered documents.

The office also served 55 notices of mortgage foreclosure, an increase of only one from last year. Of the 55 notices served, there were half or less that actually were sold at sheriff’s sale. This number still remains low with the economy still not fully recovered and unemployment still in double digits.

There were also 68 writs of execution served on individuals’ personal property for settlement of a money judgment lodged against them.

This was an increase of 30 from 2011, with most being for nonpayment on credit cards. These also were settled with no sales of property except for one privately filed judgment. The office was also responsible for serving 65 protection from abuse orders, with some ordering the removal of the defendant and removal of all weapons.

At times, the office may also have to secure the children with the parent or guardian specified by the court order. The number was an increase of 20 from the prior year.

Under duties of the court, the office provides security for plea and sentence court and jury trials. In this capacity, it transported 1,231 inmates to court-ordered hearings by President Judge John H. Foradora and Magistrates Greg Bazylak in Brookville, David Inzana in Reynoldsville and Douglas Chambers in Punxsutawney.

In 2012, the county had one murder trial for two individuals from Brockway and one trial for attempted homicide of two persons in Punxsutawney. These two trials alone required extra courthouse security for up to five full weeks.

Arrested by warrants issued by the courts, 250 individuals were taken off the warrant list, an increase of over 100. These were issued by the District Attorney’s Office, Adult Probation and Domestic Relations and Magistrates Office.

The office also has picked up individuals wanted by other states or counties. Tips can be called in at (814) 849-1615 or emailed to fugitives@jeffersoncountypa.com.

It does not matter if they are in another county or state.

The Sheriff’s Office also returned individuals who fled the state on fugitive warrants issued by the Jefferson County Courts. It returned 47 individuals in 2012 from North Carolina (1), New York (5), Arkansas (1), Maryland (1), Ohio (7), Virginia (2), New Jersey (1), Florida (5), Tennessee (2), West Virginia (2), Michigan (2), California (1), Colorado (1), Texas (6) Washington (1) Arizona (3) Indiana (3) Kentucky (2) and Missouri (1), and it has others who are in custody in states with new charges serving time before being brought back. There were also individuals picked up owing restitution to the county and to their victims. They were arrested and paid in full to keep from having to return to Jefferson County.

The Sheriff’s Office also provides security for the Clearfield Jefferson County Airport for all outgoing commercial flights seven days a week.

The Sheriff’s Office also supplies daily courthouse security for all employees and visitors utilizing a walk-through magnetometer and x-ray machine.

The deputies check from several hundred to a thousand individuals on any given day, mostly depending on the court calendar.

In 2012, the courthouse had cameras installed on all floors monitoring all entryways, hallways, courtrooms and the exterior of the courthouse and street. These are watched on TV screens from three 
different locations throughout the courthouse and are all recorded on disk.

This is just another way for the county to help ensure the safety of all employees and visitors to Jefferson County Courthouse.

All county offices are also equipped with panic alarm buttons should they need a deputy or deputies to render assistance.

Deputies also oversaw the jail work release program (Orange Patrol) for inmates to do services for the county, townships, boroughs or non-profit organizations.

The Orange Patrol will mow, clean and replace signs on the 36 county-owned bridges and seven 911 radio tower sites.

It also mows and maintains eight cemeteries within the county, along with all county-owned properties and the fairgrounds.

It has also been working on restoring an old cemetery between Hamilton and Five Points that was so overgrown and neglected that not many people even knew that it was there.

This year, it has also been helping with the clearing and upkeep of the Rails to Trails.

The Orange Patrol is made up of sentenced nonviolent individuals who request to be part of the program. The number on the Orange Patrol will vary from day to day at times, with some being released while others are coming on.

By choosing to help on the program, they may receive no credit for their time as they are serving a mandatory sentence, while some will receive a whole day to a half day taken from their sentence.

They worked a total of 8463.5 hours, with some receiving good time saving the county 444.5 days jail time with early releases.

The office also supported community functions by being involved or supplying deputies to assist with traffic control and/or security.

It also participated in Brockway Night Out and partnered with the Pittsburgh Drug Enforcement Administration in taking back expired or unused Prescription Drugs.

With the help of local pharmacies in Punxsutawney promoting the program and Lindsey Fire Hall allowing 
the use of its building, as well as Brockway Drug and McCabes in Reynoldsville allowing deputies to stand in their stores to collect the prescriptions, the office collected 215 pounds of pills that could have worked their way onto the streets of the county.

Across Pennsylvania alone, there were 25,624 pounds collected on Sept. 29 alone.

The office thanks the Jeffersonian Democrat, Punxsutawney Spirit, Mega Rock 105.5 and WPXZ 104.1 for their help in getting the word out and enabling the collection of the medication.

The office continues to work towards Crime Prevention and Safety in Jefferson County.

The Easter Bunny Program is alive and well, and “Deputy Bunny” visits the children’s ward at the local hospitals during the week of Easter.

In 2012, there were no children in the ward for the Easter Bunny to visit, so the Easter Bunny visited the Hahne Cancer Ward and handed out stuffed rabbits to the patients.

The Deputy Phil Program is provided at elementary schools within the county that wish to participate for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Sheriff Carl Gotwald Sr. and K9 Brett continue to promote drug awareness at the school and functions. Residents can help Big Brothers and Sisters raise money by participating in their bowling challenge.

In 2012, while traveling outside the county, Deputy Mark Humes and Deputy Megan Sonnie witnessed a 
one-vehicle crash in Blair County Pa. on Route 99. Responding to the scene, they found that the young lady was seriously injured and needed all their training and experience to keep her alive.

She expired twice, requiring the deputies to administer CPR before the ambulance and medics were able to take over. They received thanks from the family for being there for her and made everyone in Jefferson County proud.

In 2012, the Sheriff’s Office took possession of seven Sturm Ruger Mini 14 semi-auto rifles in 223 caliber. These were received through the Law Enforcement Military Purchasing Program at no cost to the county. The deputies have each been issued a rifle and are training to receive range certification to be allowed to carry while on duty.

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