Citizens of Fulton County:
I am proud to continue serving as your sheriff in Fulton County. Thank you for your support of this agency. The year was a year full of challenges and triumphs. Staff members were able to meet objectives successfully and surpass expectations. Enhancements in the leadership team have helped the Sheriff’s Office stay the course to improve the agency and better serve the taxpayers of Fulton County through sensible management of taxpayer funds to meet constitutional mandates.
One of the high points would be the awarding of the Second Chance Grant by the United States Department of Justice for Fulton County to help inmates successfully reenter society with a support network to reclaim their lives as productive citizens thereby easing overcrowding at the Fulton County Jail. Fulton County is one of only 17 counties in the country to share this $749,733.00 award with its justice partners. The grant award will enable the Fulton County Jail to take a comprehensive approach to reduce recidivism by offering a wide-range of services to incarcerated persons to deal with the individual’s needs, obstacles, and instill life management skills to foster the development of responsible citizens who desire a chance to be independent and escape a life of crime.
The reentry program will zero in on one of the most challenged zip codes in the metro Atlanta area, 30318. The northwest Atlanta neighborhood is experiencing a surge of new growth in housing and business. Residents witness a dichotomy everyday: signs of progress thrive in the midst of a community that is often a workplace for criminals. During the booking process, an overwhelming number of jail inmates list zip code 30318 as their home address and they often return to that same area upon release. The goal is to allow them to live where they choose and become positive contributors to society.
Security of the Fulton County Justice Center Complex continues to be a high priority for the agency. The Court Services Division continues to prepare and execute successful security plans to accommodate trials and court proceedings involving high risk defendants while screening and monitoring persons who attend these events. On the front lines, deputies who work the security check points are meticulously scrutinizing items being brought to the Justice Center Complex to detect contraband such as firearms, knives, stun guns, and other prohibited items. Deputies utilize finesse and training to safely contain these situations as they arise while maintaining the security of the complex.
In 2010, the Fulton County Jail booked more than 48,000 persons into the facility. Eighty-eight percent of those inmates faced felony charges. Overcrowding continues to be an issue. Recently gathered statistics reveal some 1100 inmates have been diagnosed as needing mental health services. Meeting these needs is one facet of the federal consent decree with more than 83 requirements related to staffing, inmates, and facilities concerning inmate care. On a daily basis, there are more than 3,000 inmates in the Fulton County Jail system. The county continues to outsource inmates to other jails to relieve overcrowding.
The Fulton County Jail welcomed a new food vendor to provide meals with an enhanced focus on good health. Aramark Correctional Services was awarded a one-year contract. This company had the lowest bid and has provided better services than the previous vendor who overcharged the agency in previous years. The new contract in 2010 was for $3.5 million which saved $603,842 opposed to the 2009 contract that cost $4.1 million. This is a savings of 14.55%.
At no cost to taxpayers, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office provided literacy and vocational programs to inmates. The Literacy Program team began by accessing the aptitude of inmates and tailored curriculum to accommodate each student. A shocking number of inmates were reading at the third grade level, if at all. The success stories were amazing. One inmate was able to write a letter on his own to his mother for the first time. Special ceremonies were held to recognize inmates who were able to earn a G.E.D. A partnership with Good Will helped establish a Floor Technician Certification Program. Participants learn how to clean floors, safely use chemicals, care for equipment, and other skills needed to qualify for a job in that field. The Culinary Arts Program allows inmates to obtain certification to get a job working in a kitchen. Students learn the basics of food preparation, safety guidelines, and meal planning. One graduate of the Culinary Arts Program was proud to say that once he leaves jail, he feels confident that he will have the skills necessary to find gainful employment in the food industry affording him the means to provide for his five children. These are just examples of ways the community has worked with us to reduce recidivism.
The Law Enforcement Division is consistently executing warrants and taking criminals off the streets. On a regular basis, the Sex Offender Unit conducts round-ups to track down violators who failed to register with this office and meet the requirements governing their release from prison. These special details often involve local, state, and federal partners which lead to safe and successful operations with additional resources.
The Sheriff’s Office also conducted road safety checks along side other law enforcement agencies to get dangerous drivers off the road. Those special operations have resulted in numerous arrests of fugitives and drug dealers while also having positive interactions with motorists. One such special enforcement detail led to the issuance of 271 citations in a 6-hour period and the location of a home filled with illegal drugs, drawers filled with cash, numerous weapons and tools to commit crimes.
C.A.L.E.A., the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies confirmed the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office as an accredited agency. This critical vote of confidence shows that the agency demonstrates a commitment to excellence in law enforcement. The Sheriff’s Office underwent a voluntary assessment to prove it could meet 464 standards in four basic areas: policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services. By approving our certification, they have returned us to being a professional office and restored pride and dignity to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office. The Planning and Research team is to be commended for their hard work and dedication. They started from scratch to ensure that our policies and procedures were up to standard.
The Constitution of the State of Georgia requires sheriff’s offices to provide support and educational services as a method to prevent crime. This agency made great strides in this area in 2010 and 2011. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office sponsored a training course with the United States Department of Justice to educate and certify law enforcement officers in Gang Resistance Education and Training, the G.R.E.A.T. Program. Once certified, the instructors go into schools to encourage students to make better choices while dealing with serious topics such as drug use, bullying, and gang violence. Deputies will continue teaching the curriculum to Fulton County students and developing good relationships with them.
The Sheriff’s Office held the second annual youth conference called H.Y.P.E. 2011 with the Chaplains Program. The acronym stands for Helping Youth Prosper and Evolve. The one-day-event brought together doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, judges, the Georgia Department of Labor, and other community leaders to share their expertise with students in small groups and have honest dialogue about the obstacles young people face. By working to help these students be successful, everyone’s future is brighter and safer.
Deputies worked with senior citizens to offer them safety tips and educate them on new trends in crime. Many sessions were held throughout the year to remind seniors to stay vigilant and alert when it comes to crime. A partnership with the Tri-Cities S.A.L.T. Council brings to the table senior citizens, the Sheriff’s Office, other public safety agencies, and the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The annual Seniors and Law Enforcement Together safety conference was a great opportunity to share the latest crime trends and encourage citizens to be prepared to deal with scam artists and others who prey on seniors.
The agency motto is “Proudly We Serve”. All of the efforts described here are ways the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office shows its commitment to excellence in serving Fulton County and beyond.