Cleveland County has experienced a dramatic drop across several important crime indices since Sheriff Norman took office. This is not just a matter of good luck. Rather, it is the result of a well-constructed, multi-faceted plan to address crime in our county. The various divisions of our agency work extremely well together to target crime. Each brings different abilities to the fight against crime. There is not one single initiative that has led to the reduction in crime in our county, but several programs. Additionally, citizens who are well-educated about crime prevention and always alert, prove to be powerful allies in our fight against criminals.
Upon first taking office, Sheriff Norman immediately rebranded the agency's Interstate Criminal Enforcement team to the Community Interdiction Team. The respective names communicate the intent of each. While the ICE team was tasked with finding drugs as they traveled through Cleveland County's ten-mile stretch of Interstate 85, the team that replaced it was focused on criminal predators in our neighborhoods. Instead of the unit working a remote area of our county, looking for passers-through, they now concentrate on quality of life issues that face our citizens at home.
CIT conducts numerous presentations on Crime Prevention, empowering residents with knowledge. There are a few tips that can tremendously help citizens to avoid being the victims of crime:
• Always lock your doors and windows
• Lock your vehicle doors and don't leave valuables inside
• Don't let strangers into your home
• Keep your residence well-lit, inside and out
• Record make, model and serial number information for all of your valuables
• Take photographs of your valuables, particularly hard-to-describe items
• Engrave items, particularly electronics and power tools,
with an easily-identifiable unique mark
• If an offer, particularly one received via e-mail, phone, or mail,
seems too good to be true, it is a scam.
Over the past two years, the sheriff's office has conducted a weekly drug round-up, resulting in 340 Arrests (715 total charges) and $242,590 in narcotics seized. The target of the round-ups has been low- & mid-level drug dealers found within the county. These dealers sell to addicts who fund their addiction by regularly stealing (robbery & larceny are examples) from others.
The Prescription Drug Diversion Investigation Program was the result of a federal grant, which paid for 75% of the costs associated with the program, including a full-time investigator. Through this program, we have been able to target those people who are illegally diverting highly-addictive prescription drugs from their intended prescribed use, such as abuse by the prescription holder, or selling those legally-obtained medications to others. Prescription drug abuse is very closely associated with other crimes, particularly residential break-ins and larcenies. Additionally, the program has been responsible for taking millions of unwanted and outdated prescription pills out of circulation by destroying them.
Sheriff Norman has increased the number of deputies per squad by 37%, subsequently reducing the size of patrol zones. This allows deputies to become more familiar with smaller zones and make more rounds within those zones. As a result, deputies are able to arrive to the scene of crime reports quicker.
In 2017 alone, the Criminal Investigations Division investigated 1,128 cases, resulting in 896 felony warrants and 221 misdemeanor warrants, and the recovery of $369,420 in stolen property.
Murder is a crime generally committed between two acquaintances. These crimes tend to be much harder to interdict due to the personal nature of the crime. While one murder is too many, we have maintained a relatively low annual murder rate. A remarkable feat that we have consistently accomplished is holding those responsible for murder accountable for their crime. We have a 100% clearance by arrest rate for all murders committed during Sheriff Norman's tenure. Additionally, we have charged suspects in four cold-case murders that were inherited from previous administrations. All of those cases were several years old, including two from the 1990s.