One of the most asked about questions for Sheriff John Cottle is why all the sudden the large number of sexual offenses being reported in Lincoln County.
Earlier this month, the Sheriff’s Office conducted an analysis of the sexual crimes investigated within the county since 2009 to answer that question. The analysis revealed that the sheriff’s office investigates, on average, 48 sexual crimes per year. The highest year was in 2009 with 68 investigations while in 2011 the sheriff’s office only investigated 37 sexual crimes. So far in 2013, the sheriff’s office has investigated 44 cases.
Of the sexual crimes investigated, they were not subjected to one specific geographical location but rather distributed throughout the county. Some communities were inflicted more than others depending on the year.
In many instances, victims bring forward older cases from a few months to years old thus increasing that year’s investigation number. These instances do not reflect a current sexual crime rate in Lincoln County but rather an increase in reporting.
“The sheriff’s office has always investigated sexual crimes and what we are seeing is nothing new unfortunately,” said Sheriff John Cottle. “What is different; however, is reporting to the public of these instances. We want the community to know we are investigating sexual crimes and as a result receiving charges against offenders.”
Although the recent reporting of offenders appears to give Lincoln County a bad name Sheriff Cottle thinks differently. “I want people to know we live in a great community but every community has their challenges. By reporting the crimes in the nature we do, acts as a deterrent and perhaps offenders will think differently.”
Sexual crimes, especially against children, shock the conscience of the community and offenders will be identified through the various social and media outlets at the sheriff’s disposal.
Sheriff Cottle also contributes the number of reporting sexual crimes to education institutions fostering an environment where the victim feels safe to speak out and the confidence in law enforcement to investigate each claim thoroughly.
The sheriff’s office has responded to the many community requests for transparency in both investigations and the daily activities of the department.