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Johnson County's 2016 annual report shows areas of concern, improvement

The annual report for the Johnson County Sheriff's Office was released on Wednesday.

Johnson County officials are seeing the fruit of their labor in the 2016 annual report, released Wednesday.

They believe they're on the right track to keep almost 150,000 residents safe, but the real story is in the numbers.

"They're saying OWIs are down statewide but just not seeing that here," Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said.

In 2015, the county recorded 182 OWI investigations, but that number rose to 235 in 2016.

"Either we're doing a better job of getting them off the road or they're still a lot of them out there that we're doing a better job of catching," Pulkrabek said.

Aggravated assaults also steadily increased 74 percent in 2016.

"I think under reporting, victims don't like to be victims and understandably so," Pulkrabek said. "I think finding better ways, better training to reach out to victims to deal with victims, to help them through these things."

Year after year, sexual offenses are under reported but in 2016, Johnson County saw a triple digit percentage increase.

Ten offenses were reported in 2015, while in 2016 they rose to 33.

Katryn Duarte, assistant director of the Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline, said they've also seen an influx of calls over the last year.

"On the hotline last year, statewide, we answered roughly around 2,500 calls from victim/survivors," Duarte said. "Some of it might be about awareness other than actual increase in assaults."

"I don't believe that there are less out there three years ago than there are today, I just believe that there are more people willing to report," Pulkrabek said.

The sheriff also said the numbers might not always reflect the human side of the law.

"We have to find our own sort of self-motivation when it comes to things like that," Pulkrabek said. "We're motivated to do what's best for Johnson County."

Not everything was in the red in the annual report.

Fewer people are being housed in the jail, less than 100 inmates on average compared to 109 in 2015.

"I think there's a philosophical change at the courts in how many people are required to post bond or cash bond or being released on their own recognizance," Pulkrabek said.

To view the full report, follow this link.

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