Although crime has always been there, numbers are increasing with the population of McMullen County.
“To put it simply, there are a lot more people and a lot more stuff to steal,” Shelton said. “The increase in crimes involving narcotics can also be attributed to the increase in the population.”
Justice of the peace court cases went from about 700 filed in 2011 to 2,600 in 2012 and more than 5,000 so far for 2013, according to McMullen County Sheriff Emmett Shelton. He said there were only five indictments in McMullen in 2012, but the first six months of 2013 had 17 go through court with 24 more awaiting grand jury. County court cases increased from about 30 in 2012 to over 150 so far for 2013.
Traffic violations, narcotics arrests for marijuana, meth, cocaine, heroin and synthetics, domestic disturbances, breaches of the peace, alcohol-related violations, human trafficking and theft are the primary crimes in McMullen. Shelton said most theft cases are oil field related.
“This can probably be attributed to the influx of people who are following the oil field and who bring their habits and problems with them, creating a demand and subsequently a supply of these controlled substances in our community,” Shelton said.
He also attributed the increase in theft cases to the increase in population brought in by the oil field and the influx of oil field equipment.
Traditionally, McMullen dealt with primarily marijuana-related narcotics violations, human and drug trafficking, game violations and occasional domestic disturbances, Shelton said.
He said personal use narcotics found in McMullen have changed from marijuana to meth, cocaine, heroin and synthetic drugs.
“Many of these violations and crimes are not new; there’s just a lot more of them,” Shelton said.
Shelton said traffic violations continue to be the primary threat to public safety in McMullen County. He said this is likely a result of McMullen County Sheriff’s Department and DPS’ efforts on traffic enforcement.
“The same violators are being caught repeatedly for the same offenses,” Shelton said.
He urges McMullen drivers to stay vigilant when on the road and pay attention to other drivers.
With increased crime comes increased law enforcement presence in McMullen. Shelton said there are more violators caught and more cases filed due to the increase in officers on patrol.
McMullen County Sheriff’s Department is now fully staffed with 10 full-time deputies, four part-time deputies and one full-time investigator. The county’s district attorney, county attorney and justice of the peace have also increased personnel to handle the growing case load generated by the sheriff’s office.
“We also have a very proactive education and training program for our officers to keep them updated on laws and patrol techniques,” Shelton said.
Shelton said there has been a small increase in violent offenses in McMullen. Unlike George West, Shelton said there has not been an increase in reports involving children or violent crimes.
“We still deal with human traffickers on a weekly basis,” Shelton said. “Theft reports have increased substantially as have drug arrests.”
Although McMullen County Sheriff’s Department has grown by 400 percent in the last year, Shelton said the local residents are still an imperative part of the effort to lower crime in the area. Shelton said locals are “our eyes and ears,” and the information they receive from calls helps them to better serve the community.
“They just need to keep doing what they have been doing by reporting anything out of the ordinary, or what we now know as ‘the ordinary,’” Shelton said.