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Collier: Crime has increased dramatically

The year 2007 will be remembered differently by different people. For those in law enforcement and the judicial system, the year may be confined to their memory only as a blur of faces, case numbers and a seemingly unending workload.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr., said the most recent session of the grand jury earlier this month pushed the number of criminal cases handled by him and his staff past the 350 mark. That is in stark contrast to the workload when he first took office in 1992.

“When I started as prosecutor in 1992 we had 100 cases,” he said. “We have been overwhelmed. One thing, I can’t say enough about my staff. Really, everyone has been more than pulling their weight.”

Collier said he thinks the increase in crime can be attributed to several factors, among them a poor economy and the increased use of addictive drugs. He also attributed the increased caseload to a good working relationship between his staff and the county’s law enforcement agencies that have been diligent in investigating crimes in the first place.

The 350 cases include burglaries, drug crimes, felony drunken driving arrests, thefts and sex crimes as well as murder. In 2007, there were four murders:

that of Tina Lovejoy in January, Thelma Mooney and Christina Galloway in February and Damon Pringle in June.