Johnston Co. Sheriff's Office shares frustrations about SQ 780 & 781

Published: Jan. 24, 2019 at 6:36 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

"Now we get a lot of complaints," Sheriff Jon Smith said. "'Why aren't yall doing something for these drug offenders?' Well, we can't do much."

Smith says it's because of State Question 780 and 781 that went into effect July 2017.

State Question 780 reclassified simple drug possession and some minor property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

State Question 781 allowed the money saved from these changes to go towards a fund used by county governments to provide substance abuse and mental health services.

"Under 20 grams of meth is a misdemeanor, that is a major bust for any agency in this state or it used to be," Smith said. "It's absolutely ridiculous that a person can walk around with that much meth and only be arrested for a misdemeanor."

"We're not seeing the redistribution of funds that 781 promised us to help these people get help, because we want people to get help," Capt. Gary Dodd said.

Wednesday morning Dodd arrested Nickolas Jones for public intoxication, possessing about 4 grams of meth and loaded firearms while allegedly high.

That afternoon Jones bonded out.

"If you could imagine a sugar packet as one gram," Dodd explained.

According to publicly available data, misdemeanor court filings in Johnston County are down about 9% in the 18 months since the state questions went into effect - compared to the 18 months before.

But Sheriff Smith and Deputy Dodd say the revolving door at the jail is putting their lives at risk.

"It's really dangerous for us out there and usually most of these are going to have some sort of weapon on them," Smith said.

"In the past two years we've had four officer-involved shootings and there was one nexus to every single one of those shooting, it was meth," Dodd said.