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How Sheriff Cloninger is Protecting and Serving Gaston County

IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT DIVISION

In February 2007, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger entered into a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security to identify and process individuals arrested in Gaston County who are in the country illegally. This process, known as the 287 (g) Program, allowed the Gaston County Sheriff's Office to become the second of eight counties in North Carolina to perform this service on the East Coast.

The voluntary initiative, authorizing state and local authorities to work with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to identify and detain immigration offenders, is found in Section 287 (g) of the “Immigration and Nationality Act.” The initiative is designed to effectively multiply the forces of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement capabilities through the enhanced cooperation and communication with state and local law enforcement.

•  As of June 2010, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials certified sixteen deputies from Gaston County to carry out certain duties traditionally handled by Federal Immigration Officers.

•  Trained deputies determine whether there is probable cause for an immigration violation and complete the processing for criminal aliens.

•  The process includes fingerprinting, preparing documentation to place aliens in deportation proceedings and preparing documentation to deport aliens following immigration protocol.

Using equipment and technology called IDENT, deputies now fingerprint and photograph all non US born arrestees. The IDENT system searches a special biometric database that only contains information on aliens that have been arrested or have had some type of immigration encounter. Additional information regarding an arrestee's immigration status will be determined based on an in-depth interview of the individuals past history.

Since April 2007 thru June 2010 these deputies have identified and interviewed 1312 foreign born nationals. Of these, 1163 have been processed for deportation. 


CHILDREN AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Gaston County Schools System Fingerprinting Program

This program is a partnership between the Gaston County Sheriff's Office and the Gaston County School System. All applicants that apply for employment with the school system are fingerprinted and background checks are conducted.

•  This program began several years ago with the agreement that the school system would purchase and maintain all equipment needed to perform the task.

•  The equipment purchased was a portable live scan machine with a printer and software

•  The Gaston County Sheriff's office will provide quality and trained personnel to fingerprint all applicants who apply for employment with the school system.

•  The fingerprints are sent electronically to the State Bureau of Investigation to assist in determining if the applicant is eligible for employment.

“The safety of our children is very important, and Superintendent Reeves McGlohan and I believe this program is a small price to pay for the safety of the children of Gaston County.” Sheriff Cloninger

Third Grade Court House Tour Program:

In a partnership with the Gaston County School System, all third graders take field trips to the Gaston County Courthouse and are chaperoned by a Sheriff Deputy.

Elementary School presentation on safety:

Sheriff Cloninger or one of his deputies presents to elementary grade students on safety issues.

Do the Right Thing Program

Each month teachers nominate students for recognition. The Alliance for Children & Youth judge the entries and select an elementary, middle and high school winner. Those students chosen are treated to a luncheon at the City Club of Gastonia and recognized for their good deeds. Each student honored receives a plaque, a $100 savings bond from First National Bank, a T-shirt and other prizes. The Alliance for Children & Youth, City Club of Gastonia, First National Bank, PSNC Energy, Sylvan Learning Center, Piedmont Adult & Pediatric Medicine Associates and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office sponsor the program.

The Gaston County Sheriff's Office Explorer Post 566

Post 566 is chartered through the Boy Scouts of America and is a program designed for kids from the ages of 14 old to 20. Girls and boys who meet the qualifications are accepted in the program. Sheriff Cloninger feels that this is a very important learning tool that shows the young people if they work hard and apply themselves they are very often rewarded at the end of the process. A key philosophy of the Gaston County Sheriff's Office Post 566 is that as people, when given the opportunity we should give back to the community that has been so good to us. With this philosophy Sheriff Cloninger identifies at least one project that the post can participate in within Gaston County, whatever the need may be, whether it may be providing Christmas for a needy family with kids who would otherwise not have Christmas, or some other worthy project. The Law Enforcement Explorer Program is one of, if not the most important program for our youth today in Gaston County. It not only teaches important qualities necessary to succeed in life, it also keeps the kids on the right path to a very successful life and provides them with the tools to do what they want to do, and be what they want to be.

•  Post 566 teaches that not everyone is cut out to be a Law Enforcement Officer, but there are other very worthy career paths that a young person can take, and with determination they can reach the goals they set for themselves.

•  Post 566 has trained and competed against other Explorer post throughout the State of North Carolina and on two different occasions we came out as top in the state.

•  In 2010 we will hold our third Summer Explorer Academy for our members.

•  In this academy we bring in quality instructor and speakers that we feel can and will make a difference in the explorer's life.

•  In 2010 the Explorer Post created a scholarship which we hope to present to our first recipient in 2011.

•  The focus on this scholarship is not Law Enforcement but education and how important it is to get a quality education in what field a young person chooses.

•  We beleive that the most recognizable stumbling block that gets in the way of young students is the affordability of higher education.

•  Through the Explore Program a scholarship is available

•  The amount of this scholarship is $1000.00 that will be given to a member of Post 566 as long as the funds are available.

•  The funds are provided through fundraisers that the explorers raise themselves.

•  Students must maintain a “C” average to stay in this program

“We originally started this program for kids that were interested in Law Enforcement as a career. We teach and stress the qualities of leadership, integrity and team work or team building. Our goal in the program is to encourage, help and assist kids in learning the importance of staying in school and getting an education and how important that is in life. We also put strong emphasis on teamwork and how with it nothing is impossible. I feel in Law Enforcement that the team concept is the way to go whether we are talking about law enforcement teamwork or teaming with the community on a special project.” Sheriff Cloninger


COMMUNITY PROGRAMS AND OUTREACH

Aggressive Sex Offender Registration and Monitoring

North Carolina General Statutes require that each Sheriff's Office in North Carolina maintain the Sex Offender Registry in their prospective counties. The requirements specify that when a sex offender is convicted by the courts, is not incarcerated and ordered by a judge to register, the offender is required to report to the Sheriff's Office in the county they will reside. Once the convicted sex offender is registered by the Sheriff's Office, the offender receives a resident verification letter on or about their anniversary date of registration, and every six months after that the process is repeated. The offender must report to the Sheriff's Office in person to verify that he/she still resides at the residence where the sex offender registry indicates them living. As long as the offender abides by all the residential requirements and educational requirements, and the offender is not on active probation, they meet the requirements of General Statutes.

•  Gaston County has 360 registered sex offenders which places Gaston in the top seven in the state for the amount of sex offenders living in the county

•  Gaston County currently has 310 registered sex offenders residing here

•  50 Gaston County sex offenders presently are incarcerated here or in facilities elsewhere and identify Gaston as their home county.

•  In addition to the biannual mandatory address verification process for registered sex offenders required by statute ; Sheriff Cloninger requires a deputy to re-verify each home address every three months through personal home visits.

•  Sheriff Cloninger requires that when a convicted sex offender comes to the Sheriff's Office to verify his/her address, or to make a change of address that they are checked for outstanding warrants.

•  Sheriff's Office personnel are required to compare their appearance with the registry photo. If there is a significant change in their appearance a request is made that the registrant allows the Sheriff's office to update their photo.

•  The offender may refuse to allow this, however North Carolina General Statute stipulates that the convicted sex offender if requested by Sheriff's Office personnel to update their photo must comply

•  Registrants have 72 hours to comply and if they do not then an arrest warrant may be obtained.

•  The Gaston County Sheriff's Office has partnered with the Department of Community Corrections Probation and Parole Division to administer the Safe Halloween Project.

•  This program requires that each registered sex offender that is on active probation is required to come to the Gaston County Court House on Halloween night for a program that usually lasts for three hours.

•  If the offender does not show up for this program, then law enforcement and probation officers locate and arrest the offender for a probation violation.

•  The number of offenders this affects is roughly 70 to 80 offenders.

“I take a very proactive approach to assure the citizens of Gaston County that convicted sex offenders do abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the General Statutes of North Carolina. I make sure they know that I am watching them so that they are not watching our children.” Sheriff Alan Cloninger

Domestic Violence Program

The Gaston County Sheriff's Office is concerned about the physical safety and welfare of the citizens living in our community. In the last few years, the Sheriff has added a number of resources to improve responses to the problem of domestic violence in Gaston County:

•  In 2007, The Gaston County Sheriff's Office, The Shelter of Gaston County, and the Gaston County Attorney's Office developed a partnership to provide a Court Advocate for victims of domestic violence

•  This advocate is located at the Sheriff's Office and advises victims about resources through local agencies and answers questions:

•  how to fill in and file complaints of abuse

•  how to address the court

•  may accompany the victim to the courtroom.

•  Created a Domestic Violence Unit

•  This team of two highly specialized Sheriff' Deputies attends to matters concerning domestic violence.

•  They serve all Protective orders granted by the court to help ensure the safety of victims and their families.

These two groups, the Court Advocate and the Domestic Violence Unit help many Gaston County men and women find safety and the support they request through the legal process.

“Through the positive action of these groups and the continued education about domestic violence, the citizens of Gaston County live safer and happier lives.” Sheriff Cloninger

Lifesaver Program

The Project Lifesaver Program is a partnership with the Pilot Club of Gastonia, Gaston Emergency Medical Services and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office. The program is designed to assist caretakers of loved ones with Alzheimer's disease, other types of dementia, autism and special needs children. The program was started through the hard work of Sheriff Alan Cloninger and the Pilot Club of Gastonia.

•  The program is administered through the Pilot Club of Gastonia and requires an application approval process before the client is fitted with an ankle or wrist identification bracelet.

•  If the client wanders off, the caretaker calls 911 and identifies themselves as caretaker for a Project Lifesaver client.

•  The 911 Center transfers the call to the Gaston County Sheriff's Office as well as notifying the law enforcement department with jurisdiction in the area the client was last seen.

•  The Gaston County Sheriff's Office, as well as the Coordinator of Project Lifesaver are notified and assess the incident to determine what personnel will be notified and depolyed.

•  This program is strictly volunteer, and if someone who is not working is called in, they are not compensated for their time.

•  There is no cost to the client or their family however; it does cost $300.00 per year for the client to be on the program.

•  The $300.00 fee covers the initial cost of the program and also the maintenance and replacement batteries for one year.

•  Donations are accepted

•  If a caretaker wishes to pay for a loved one to be in the program, if they meet the qualifications they will be approved.

“My goal was to start this program without the use of county taxpayer dollars. Before the program could get off the ground, $10,000.00 dollars had to be raised through donations and grants. By working with the Pilot Club and several civic organizations we were successful in raising the funds needed for this important program.” Sheriff Cloninger

Gaston County Sheriff's Office Gang Task Force: Gang Investigator

Role and Responsibilities

•  Collaborates closely with Gaston County Police Department and Gastonia City Police Department

•  Conducts gang awareness presentations to school staff and students, churches, community partners, and to the general public (upon request)

•  Educates students on bullying

•  Interviews possible gang members and at-risk youth to determine their level of gang involvement

•  Participates in monthly Gang Task Force meetings with state and federal law enforcement and probation and parole departments.

•  Assists small towns and other law enforcement agencies when requested

•  Validates and documents gangs and gang members, including those incarcerated in the Gaston County Jail

•  Documents and interprets gang graffiti located in Gaston County

•  Monitors gang activity in Gaston County

•  Collaborates with identified liaison officers within the jail and local departments to connect interested parties with available services in the jail and within the community

Gaston County Gang Taskforce Programs

•  Outreach Program

•  Assist community partners facilitating the discontinuation of gang involvement

•  Discuss on a case-by-case basis available resources in assisting and guiding youth away from gangs

•  Team building exercises

•  Member of the WIA Youth Council

•  Gang Of One Program

•  Collaborates with the Gastonia Police Department to respond to questions posed by the community relating to graffiti and gang identification.

•  Investigate complaints of gang graffiti throughout Gaston County

NC Gang Investigator Association

•  Gaston County Sheriff Gang Investigator serves as the regional coordinator

•  10 County region

•  Plans and organizes gang awareness conference for law enforcement officers

Gang Affiliation Statistics in Gaston County

Gang

Total Number of Identified Members

Asian

5

Blood

1096

Crip

537

D-Block

56

Disciples

67

Folk

166

Hate Group

28

Hispanics

17

Motorcycle

34

MS-13

21

Nine Tech

14

Other

139

People

2

SUR-13

11

Threat Group

23

Total

2,216

Community Involvement

Sheriff Cloninger ensures that his office interacts with the community in Gaston County.

•  Community Foundation/Run for the Money

•  Habitat for Humanity

•  Shrine Events

•  Holy Angels

•  ARC

•  Relay for Life –American Cancer Society

•  Cancer Services

•  MDA/ Lock Up

•  Salvation Army

•  St Jude

•  Pops in the Park

•  United Way

•  Project Lifesaver

•  Domestic Violence Avon Walk

•  Hope for Gaston

•  Webb Street School

•  Read Across America

•  Toys for Tots

•  Explorer Post 566

•  American Red Cross

•  United Way

•  Project Life giver


JAIL ADMINISTRATION

Inmate programs are created and designed to encourage the inmate to desire a lifestyle change, to make positive use of jail time, and to reduce recidivism. Sheriff Alan Cloninger brought several programs into the jail to address the root causes of crime. Each operational program is run by volunteers or paid for by the program's host organization.

Below is the number of inmates booked in the Gaston County jail.

Total inmates booked into the Gaston County Jail

•  15,737

•  14,937

•  14,836

•  14,644

•  16,097

•  16,090

Annual Average Daily Jail Population:

2009 - 507

2008 - 542

2007 - 517

2006 - 526

2005 - 480

2004 - 456

Inmate Work Program

Sheriff Cloninger implemented a program that puts the incarcerated to work. While imamates are paying off their debt to society, you the taxpayer save money through inmate worker program.

2005 75,014 hours: Taxpayers Saved $392,416.06

2006 71,660 hours: Taxpayers Saved $376,516.18

2007 75,737 hours: Taxpayers Saved $427,214.50

2008 79,397 hours: Taxpayers Saved $489,693.25

2009 70,278 hours: Taxpayers Saved $484,556.30

*Costs are based on minimum wage .

*Worker inmate duties ( all duties performed by worker inmates are done under the supervision of a Detention Officer or a Deputy Sheriff)

*Worker Inmates assigned to this detail are serving a jail sentence and can perform work details outside of the secure perimeter of the jail.

•  General duties

•  Sweeping and mopping floors in all hallways and in all cellblocks

•  Cleaning showers and toilets in all cellblock dayrooms

•  Cleaning tables and seats in each cellblock

•  Moving meal carts to the cellblocks

•  Assist with the serving of meal trays and beverages to inmates (3 times daily)

•  Picking up meal trays after each meal (3 times daily)

•  Laundry Services

•  Sort all dirty inmate laundry (sheets, blankets, towels, washcloths, pants and shirts)

•  Washing and drying all laundry

•  Fold all clean laundry

•  Sweeping and mopping laundry area

•  Prepare carts with clean laundry for each cell block laundry exchange

•  Kitchen duties (INMATES ARE NOT PERMITTED TO COOK THE FOOD)

•  Prepares all meal trays with condiments (3 meals daily)

•  All cleaning in kitchen area (floors, counters, grills, ovens, food carts, etc)

•  Washes all meal trays, pots and pans after each meal

•  Unpacks all food and supplies, placing them in the proper storage area

•  Assists with preparing meal tray and placing in serving carts

•  Community service duties

•  Cleans the public area of the Sheriffs' Office and Jail (floors, counters, seats, public restrooms, public area of the magistrate office and outside front entrance of the building)

•  Cleans the waiting area (soft booking) (floors, counters, seats, holding cells, Officer's restrooms and breathalyzer rooms)

•  Cleans all the stairways in the jail area

•  Clean and washes the Sheriffs' office vehicles

•  Upon request from the County Park and Recreation Division assist with cleanup in the county parks and other areas of the County

•  Upon request from NCDOT assist with roadside cleanup

•  Upon request from any small Towns within the county assist with roadside or area cleanup

Gaston County Sheriff's Office DNA Program

•  Based on North Carolina General Statute every person within the State of North Carolina that is convicted of a Felony is required to submit their DNA which is sent to the State Bureau of Investigation to be stored in their DNA database.

•  The statute states that in each county the Sheriff's Office will have the responsibility of collecting and sending the DNA to the S.B.I.

•  When this program started Sheriff Cloninger entered into an agreement with the Gaston County Health Department to collect the DNA samples and the deputy that works at the Health Department will have the responsibility of mailing the samples to the S.B.I.

•  This program is cost effective to the citizens of Gaston County because the cost of the processing is passed on to the person required by the courts to submit to D.N.A.


RECIDIVISM PROGRAMS

GED Program for Inmates:

•  Began in March 2005. Actual GED classes began on July 26, 2005.

•  This program is a partnership between Gaston College and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office. Gaston College provides the instructor and some school supplies.

•  The GED program meets twice a week for men and women.

•  The Class is limited to only 12 men and 10 women.

•  The three hour classes prepare inmates to be test ready.

•  Once ready, the test is administered at the jail.

•  This program gives the inmate an education and in return should boost confidence, self-respect and broaden job opportunity.

High School Program for Inmates:

•  Program began in 2005

•  The program is a partnership between the Gaston County School system and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office. Gaston County schools provide the instructor's and some of the school supplies.

•  Class meets Monday through Thursday with a total of seven weekly hours. It runs from October until the first or second week in June.

•  The High School Program is mandatory for 16 and 17 year old offenders.

•  The High School Program gives them the opportunity to continue learning.

•  If a student is still enrolled in the school system, credit for work done in jail can count on the inmate's behalf.

•  If the inmate is not enrolled in school or is not allowed back into the school system, they can finish their education at Gaston College through an adult high school or through the GED program.

Father's Forever Program for Inmates:

•  A program for 16 and 17 year old males who are already teen fathers, fathers-to-be, or young males in general.

•  This program is sponsored by the Health Department through grant money.

•  It meets two to three Saturdays a month for one hour.

•  The purpose of this program is to teach young men to be a strong part of their families and help raise healthier children.

•  This program started as a means to reduce infant mortality in the Gaston County area.

New Library Program for Inmates:

In November 1999, a library began with a limited number of books provided to the inmates. There was no method of accountability set for the inmates regarding library privileges. For this reason, by 2001, most of the books were missing or unusable. Sheriff Cloninger brought the library back by advertising to the public that the Gaston County Sheriff's Office needed books for a library revitalization program. The response was tremendous; and even today books continue to be donated. Inmates are held accountable for book return and the quantity and selection are appropriate.

Drug Rehabilitation Programs for Inmates:

Began January 2006 for state incarcerated inmates and is provided and funded through grant money.

Ministry Program for Prison Inmates:

A community based volunteer program where individuals come into the cellblocks and conduct church services and minister to and with inmates who choose to participate.

AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) for Inmates:

Volunteers who pass a record check come to the jail once a week to provide an AA meeting for the women.

HIV Awareness Program for Inmates:

•  Once a week for men

•  Every other week for women

•  One hour class designed to educate and make people in jail aware of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases

•  This program also tests for HIV and Syphilis

•  This program is paid through a Gaston County Health Department grant

Moral Recognition and Mental Health Program for Inmates:

Inmates who are unable post make bail or secure release may volunteer for the Gaston County Jail Drug Education, Moral Recognition Therapy, and Mental Health classes. Those inmates who volunteer are selected by Sheriff's office staff by classification to participate in the program. There are six substance abuse education classes per week for male inmates and two classes per week for female inmates. There are two class sessions per week for MRT participants.

•  Based upon the results of that assessment, professional staff assigns inmates to twice weekly, two-hour, in-house individual and group treatment sessions.

•  Counseling and treatment are based on the Matrix Model and includes drug education, relapse prevention treatment techniques and strategies, and aftercare planning.

•  A community-based plan may include a continuum of treatment and/or aftercare—residential treatment, day-reporting center, or out-patient treatment—through the Pathways network of providers. CSAC (Certified Substance Abuse Counselors) and LCAS (Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialists) employed by ACPP maintain treatment and counseling records and files while offenders are incarcerated and serve as case managers during that period.

•  Inmates who are placed in the MRT group are given the same screening and testing.

•  Moral Recognition Therapy (MRT) is an objective, systematic treatment system designed to enhance self esteem, social, moral and positive behavioral growth in a progressive step-by-step fashion.

•  MRT has 12 to 16 steps, depending on the treatment population.

•  The duration of the in-house program is generally dictated by the Court system. The median range of time between arrest and final disposition by the court is sixt-five days for misdemeanors and ninety days for felonies.

•  Upon discharge the community corrections department (Probation) and Pathways community providers provide case management; however, as of July 1, 2010 all case management services from network providers will be eliminated due to state budget constraints.

•  Tracking of released inmates' progress or needs will be available only through Probation and other Pathways' providers who offer high intensity outpatient services which many inmates may not upon release.

**These services are provided to inmates in the Gaston County Jail through and by ACPP, Inc. Jail Services


HANDGUN PERMITS

Concealed Weapons and Handgun Purchase Permits:

Concealed Weapons

New Permits Issued

Renewed Permits Issued

Permits Denied

2004

235

314

4

2005

269

178

5

2006

419

221

6

2007

616

249

12

2008

1011

304

9

2009

1712

461

11

2010

82

24

3

Totals

4344

1751

50

 

 

 

 

Handgun Permits

Purchase Permits Issued

Purchase Permits Denied

 

2004

2979

73

 

2005

2924

71

 

2006

3126

44

 

2007

4056

117

 

2008

5661

168

 

2009

5612

195

 

2010

2017

76

 

Totals

26375

744

 


COURTHOUSE SAFETY AND SECURITY

Gaston County Courthouse Security Provided By Sheriff's Deputies

Enhanced Courthouse Security

•  12 New Cameras and 16 port Digital Video Recorder for system (procured through grant money)

•  Enhanced contraband inspection procedures

Improved Courtroom Security

•  Changed inmate disposition procedures

•  Increased number of metal detectors

•  Upgrade to magnetic locking systems throughout inmate movement areas

•  Increase number of restraints for inmate movement and personal security

Overall Courthouse Security System

•  Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) – still and pan-tilt zoom, connecting entire perimeter and interior

•  Digital Video Recordings for CCTV cameras

•  Security Access Card System and deputy remote operated security doors for inmate movement areas, and secured areas in the courthouse to include courtrooms

•  Duress alarm monitoring

•  Metal detector operation

•  Live deputy location monitoring posts

•  Secured deputy operated inmate holding facility within courthouse

•  Live deputy security for inmates within the courthouse and during inmate movement times

•  Live deputy public escorts for citizens entering and leaving courthouse (upon request)

•  Public assistance when inquiries occur

•  Live deputy escorts for witness and victim

 
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