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Officials: More DUIs, e-warrant arrests contribute to intake spike

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By Sarah Bennett

Spikes in the jail’s monthly intake in the spring and summer could be attributed to increases in arrests and launch of an electronic warrant system in Hardin County, officials said.

In March, the county switched from a paper-based warrant system to the e-warrant, a web-based system that allows all law enforcement and judicial officials full-time access to warrants from agencies throughout the state.

That month, the jail’s intake jumped to 773, a 19 percent increase over February, according to jail records.

“The first weekend they got that e-warrant, we had like 112 people come in on one weekend,” Hardin County Jailer Danny Allen said. “Most of them were able to bond out, but not all of them.”

Since the system launched March 21, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office has served 3,793 e-warrants, spokesman Greg Lowe said. He believes that number is an increase over figures from 2011.

According to the jail’s records, 1,001 inmates were lodged at the detention center as of Dec. 11 for failure to appear on a misdemeanor offense, an increase of 36 percent over the previous year.

Inmates lodged for non-payment of fines also jumped significantly from 485 in 2011 to 708 in 2012 as of Dec. 11, according to records.

Inmates lodged for drug- and alcohol-related offenses saw similar increases, Allen said.

According to numbers provided by County Attorney Jenny Oldham, local law enforcement agencies last year made 230 arrests for alcohol intoxication in public and 856 for driving under the influence.

This year, between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2012, officers have arrested 290 for alcohol intoxication in public and 970 for DUIs, according to the report.

The DUI arrests reflect drunken and drugged drivers, as both fall under the same Kentucky Revised Statute.

Norman Chaffins, spokesman for Kentucky State Police Post 4, said though most DUI arrests involve alcohol, troopers are starting to see an increase in those that are drug related.

“They’re seeing a lot of drug DUIs,” Chaffins said.

A factor that could contribute to the rise in these arrests is more police on the roadways, said Virgil Willoughby, Elizabethtown Police Department spokesman.

In August 2011, EPD lost three administrators and a patrol officer to retirement, reducing its force to 39 officers.

In 15 months, the department has hired 10 new patrol officers, seven of whom already are on roadways, Willoughby said.

“More officers on the roadways means more self-initiated activity,” he said.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@ thenewsenterprise.com.