Cass County seeing influx in domestic violence, burglary

CASSOPOLIS — Cass County continues to see an increase in domestic calls as residents are encouraged to spend more time at home.

During Thursday’s meeting of the Cass County commissioners, chair Roseann Marchetti, who represents the fourth district, shared a report from the latest meeting of the Human Services Coordinating Council. Marchetti said that Deborah Hackworth, of Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services, reported that the influx in domestic violence cases were a result of pandemic precautions of staying home more frequently.

“The isolation, the marginalization and economic deprivation have resulted in that increase,” Marchetti said.

According to a report from Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke, there were 52 domestic complaints in September 2020. This year to date, there have been 342 domestic calls to the sheriff’s department.

Although DASAS is taking precautionary measures and limiting in-person interaction with victims to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, representatives with the organization continue to serve those in need.

“DASAS has adapted its services to include more call ins, and they have gone to Zoom,” Marchetti said. “They are not, however, going into homes.”

In another portion of the meeting, Behnke warned county residents that burglaries tend to increase this time of year.

“Please call in if you see a suspicious person in the area,” he said. “I happened to be driving in an area [Wednesday] night where a neighbor called in somebody in a construction site. Luckily it was not an actual burglary in progress, but it’s always good to check those people out.”

He encouraged people to keep an eye on package deliveries, as the department is seeing its annual increase in “porch pirates.” While package deliveries have been high as people have opted for online shopping over going into crowded stores, there will soon be an even greater influx in package deliveries as the Christmas season approaches.

“If you see somebody in the neighborhood that doesn’t look right, call that in as well,” Behnke said.

Also Thursday:

  • Marchetti attended a meeting with the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, and reported that as of Wednesday, 95 people had signed up for the flu shot at the Cass County Council on Aging Friday. She also reported that COVID cases are high in Cass County.

“Some of the reasons for that are not wearing masks, lack of social distancing and large gatherings,” she said.

  • Cass County Administrator Jeff Carmen said he received a request from Cass District Library Director Barbara Gordon to include the main library in any master planning for the inter-library system, which Carmen granted. Gordon also told Carmen the library is considering putting a millage on next year’s ballot.
  • Commissioner Dixie File reported that Penn Township passed an off road vehicle ordinance, and Commissioner Skip Dyes said he is pushing to implement a similar ordinance in Calvin Township.
  • Sheriff Behnke reported that medical examinations in the county are expected to exceed the record 83 examinations since the county moved to its current record system, and has already this year performed 79 examinations. Behnke said that only two of those calls were COVID-related, and added that 21 of the 79 were organ donors.

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