GENESEE COUNTY — During his first weekly briefing of the year on Jan. 7, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announced important statistics related to the Genesee County Jail and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in 2020. The following is a collection of stats regarding operations and arrest numbers from last year, along with a brief summary of the department’s community outreach efforts.
Genesee County Jail:
In 2020, 7,137 inmates were booked in the Genesee County Jail—a considerable decline from 2019 numbers, which reported over 12,000 inmates booked for the entire year.
Sheriff Swanson said that the decline of the inmate population in 2020 is mostly attributed to the state’s COVID- 19 restrictions, which required the jail to house only the most violent or serious offenders and for the court system to grant early releases to many non-violent offenders. Swanson also noted that the average age of inmates in 2020 was between 26 to 35 years old.
Despite processing many incoming offenders, the Genesee County Jail remained COVID-free for most of the year until late October, when as many as 14 inmates initially tested positive for COVID-19. At the outbreak’s peak, nearly 30 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, as well as over 30 sheriff’s office staff members. However, most staff members and inmates experienced mild symptoms, and only one jail employee had to be hospitalized before making a full recovery.
As of Jan. 7, Swanson reported that fewer than a dozen inmates currently have COVID-19, along with six deputies.
Genesee County Paramedics division:
The Genesee County Sheriff Paramedics division responded to 19,657 medical calls in 2020, including high priority situations involving car accidents, gunshot/stabbing victims and personal medical emergencies (heart attacks, seizures etc.). The division, which is also a law enforcement wing for the Sheriff’s Office, made 116 misdemeanor arrests and 146 felony arrests during the year.
The Paramedics division—along with police officers and private EMS in Genesee County—also used Narcan to resuscitate 1,028 people from drug overdoses and saved over 152 people using the LUCAS compression CPR device.
GHOST task force:
In its full second year of operation, the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (GHOST) arrested around 90 suspected child sexual predators and seven human traffickers. Human trafficking arrests were conducted using sting operations and reverse stings—in which GHOST operatives posed as “buyers.”
GHOST also rescued 10 human trafficking victims between the ages of 14 to 29 and identified 87 missing juveniles from the county.
Altogether, GHOST confiscated over $800,000 in cash that was being used for drug and/or human trafficking enterprises in the county. GHOST also seized 3,550 hits of heroin and took 1,220 hits of meth off the streets during drug bust operations.
Starting on March 17, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office launched its Community Care Task Force to help residents get access to food during the COVID-19 lockdown. The Sheriff’s Office develop nine food distribution hubs in the community and deputized local pastors and community leaders to aid in the process. Over a million pounds of food was distributed to Genesee County residents in need through the task force.
The Sheriff’s Office also launched its IGNITE (Inmate Growth Naturally and Intentionally Through Education) program at the Genesee County Jail in September. IGNITE offers educational courses and skilled job training to inmates while they are incarcerated at the facility.
Additionally, the department started the Walk With Us Christmas Spectacular around the holidays to give back to residents in need. Sheriff’s deputies and volunteers delivered hundreds of Christmas boxes filled with goods to 200 residents across Genesee County.