The Blue Earth County Attorney has released the annual crime report for 2018. It shows there were 221 adult felonies in the year 2000 and that number peaked in 2015 with 813 but has stabilized over the past few years. In 2018, Pat McDermott said there were 723 felony cases prosecuted.
“And it’s not that this is a dangerous place by any way, shape, or means,” he explained, “We are such a growing community. There are pain points for every aspect of government services out there.” He added that the department’s caseload has more than quadrupled over time and their staff has less than doubled.
In 2000, there were 526 misdemeanor cases on the books but that was down to 270 in 2018. McDermott says that’s due to a change in the way some cases are handled to reduce a backlog. “The judiciary stepped in and said, ‘We are going to certify these types of cases as payable petty misdemeanors.’ So, where you would normally have to make a court appearance, say, for a no insurance charge, a careless driving charge, a reckless driving charge those types of cases are now a payable – you can just pay your ticket and leave,” he said.
Last year was the busiest on record at the county courthouse and McDermott said, “We actually had over 10,000 hearings in 2018 at the (Blue Earth County) Justice Center, and that’s a large number.”
McDermott also said it can be a demanding and stressful job for the 14 attorneys that work in the Blue Earth County Attorney’s Office. “The only time that our office deals with a happy moment or happy people is an adoption, and there’s not that many over time and whatnot,” he said, “We deal with conflict, crisis, and controversy on a daily basis. That is our job, that’s what we are supposed to do, we’re supposed to do our job without fear or favor or passion or prejudice and just hold people accountable.”
He noted that only about 3 percent of the population commits the crimes that would bring them before a judge.