House reports CH police making advances

By ED HOWELL
Posted 5/18/19

CARBON HILL - Carbon Hill Police Chief Eric House said his department had an 84 percent closure rate on cases this year, and that police are making headway on enforcement and equipment. House, …

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House reports CH police making advances

Posted

CARBON HILL - Carbon Hill Police Chief Eric House said his department had an 84 percent closure rate on cases this year, and that police are making headway on enforcement and equipment. 

House, in an interview Monday afternoon that referred to figures from Jan. 1 to May 12, said his department has 198 cases on the books, with 31 open. 

Some of the cases cannot be completed for various reasons. Some may have started with a report, but someone hasn't come in to get a warrant or they can't be reached for further action, House said.

"After about two weeks, I go back in and close those," he said. "But we can always reopen it if they want to come back. But I always make an attempt to call these people.

House told the Carbon Hill City Council that night that a couple of "blitzes" were held to emphasize warrants, leading to 52 arrests, out of which 31 were taken in for failure to appear. 

A total of 75 people are currently being sought on warrants, he told the council.

Earlier that day, House said his department had 17 individual felony cases held for other agencies, such as sheriff departments, since the first of the year. 

"We've had nine accidents, nine car crashes. Our accident rate has come down because we've started enforcing more traffic laws," he said, which has slowed down speeders. "I don't think we have had but a couple who have been injured."

House reported 175 citations, again because traffic laws were being enforced.

"We try to be as lenient as we can," he said, noting his largest number of cases involve the absence of tags, insurance and driver's licenses. "We don't want to just pick on people, but if you don't have a car tag - if you have a car, you've got to have a tag. If you get a tag, you're supposed to have insurance." 

House said his department is seeing where car owners get the insurance and the tag, but when the tag is run by police, "it shows 'unconfirmed' because it has lapsed. The time frame has passed. They get it for that month." As the owner has let it lapse since they got the tag, they then get a ticket. 

He noted many people have lost their driving privilege by the time officers stop them, saying that is true in Alabama as a whole.

"I don't understand why these people don't value their driving privilege, because it is a privilege," House said. "It is not a thing you can just go do, it is a privilege that the State of Alabama give you. They grant you a privilege to have that license. A lot of people have that privilege taken away from them, whether it is because of points or DUI or drug related charges. Those charges take your driver's license for a period of different times. Then of course they catch the driving while suspended (charge), which adds six months to it, and then they get into this never ending cycle."

He said the courts can now give permission to do a work privilege license, which is permission to drive back and forth to work. However, he said officers are beginning to see people take advantage of that already. "But how do you know if they are really going to work?" he asked. "We don't know that work schedule." At the same time, they may be seen repeatedly throughout the day and into the night. 

House also noted Assistant Chief Jason Richardson also got a chance to successfully use Narcan on a man during an incident in February. Narcan is a brand medication used to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses.

Richardson responded to a medical call where someone overdosed on heroin and was unresponsive, he said. The man was found not breathing in his bed and his girlfriend said that he had done heroin. After using Narcan, the man responded to the treatment within a few minutes. He was then treated by other local rescue and ambulance crews before being taken to a hospital by Regional Paramedical Services. 

House said the auto injector medication works and was obtained for all the officers in his department to use, with the help of the District Attorney's Office in terms of getting a grant.

He said since he has become chief on Nov. 3, 2017, the department has added computers in all the patrol vehicles, with printers. "We're all doing reports on the computer now," he said. "All accident reports are generated by the computer. We just put in the information, print it off and they pick it up." 

House noted officers are now using phone/radios that allow the officers to turn them on by pushing a button at a traffic stop to use for videoing a stop. "You will notice the guys wearing them on their vests," he said. "They can send this to me real time if they need to. 

The devices were obtained two months ago, but a corresponding app that is being used with it was not discovered until recently. He noted the device is also used as a mobile spot, as well as a radio, camera and a telephone. 

"So far it does pretty good," he said, adding the system works through First Net. 

Asked about the great challenge for the department, he said is trying to figure out where the ICE and heroin is coming from into this area. "We're actually working with the county as hard as we can work to try to keep this stuff at bay," he said, noting heroin appears to be making a comeback. 

He also wants to look at Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs), used for heart trouble, for all the police cars. He is looking at a grant for that. "We're probably first on the scene maybe nine times out of 10," he said.