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Helpful pointers for the new year


By Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Bullard

This new year is here! I thought I would bring some helpful pointers to readers based on common complaints or calls for service we handle at the Sheriff’s Office.

Property line disputes can become extremely frustrating. It is important to know that when it comes to the disputed area, trespassing charges can only be established once there is a clear knowledge of where the property line is. Deputies will take the best evidence available, but an official land survey or court order trumps everything else. Surveys do cost money, but if you want the dispute settled, you have to get it done.

Sometimes, when people are having trouble with neighbors, or might suspect them of criminal activity, they might point their own exterior video cameras for their home security system towards the neighbor’s yard. This violates Illinois criminal statutes and is a misdemeanor. Please refrain from doing it, even if you think you are helping law enforcement.

Shooting firearms in rural areas, outside the city limits, is lawful, during reasonable hours, no matter how much it might annoy someone. Just remember to be responsible while shooting. As a general rule, for people trying to sleep between the hours of about 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., the gun fire can be considered disorderly conduct, if it is a continuing breach of the peace. This is one big reason, among many, why silencers and suppressors should be legal in Illinois. I hope current litigation makes that happen.

There is a new county ordinance regarding derelict homes and nuisance properties. While the Sheriff’s Office takes and investigates the complaint, no action can be taken without a court order that goes through the States Attorney’s Office, approved by the county board. The County Highway Engineer can also be used when investigating these complaints.

Many times, people who have trouble with neighbors, ex-significant others, their family, or others might try to video and/or audio record any contact or conversations to either protect themselves from allegations or to try and solicit evidence that can be used in court. This practice is fine, as long as the person making the recording tells people who are present that they are being recorded. If it is done in secret, it is a violation of the eavesdropping statute and a felony.

Stereos or musical instruments must be kept at reasonable sound decibels. If your neighbors can hear your music over their radio, stereo, or television, or it is keeping them up at night, it is definitely too loud, and a breach of the peace. It can be a criminal charge if the person is warned to stop, and they keep doing it.

People who have a problem with trespassers on their property or are concerned about future problems should have their property posted as no trespassing. All that is required is a no trespassing sign posted at the main entrance to the property. There is a statute that states trees near the property line can be painted partially purple, to designate no trespassing borders. However, the main entrance must still be posted as well for a criminal charge of trespassing to be valid.

If you suspect someone is a victim of elderly abuse or domestic violence it should be reported to the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction, which includes emotional abuse. Another agency responsible for support is SWAN and can be contacted at 618-242-3505.

A vast majority of solicitations over the phone, via social media or online, or in person are attempts at fraud or scams. Anyone asking for money, access to personal information or account information is probably a scammer. Anyone asking for payment in the form of any gift card is definitely a scammer. Tell your family before they pay any money, to anyone, due to correspondence they received that was not solicited, to contact another family member, or local law enforcement, to see if it is legitimate.

If a person is involved in an event where their vehicle is disabled on or near a roadway due to a crash, inclement weather, or other reason, there is no absolute rule on whether or not you should stay in your vehicle. Vehicle occupants should assess the risks to them if they stay in the vehicle or get out. It is a case by case basis determined by how close to the roadway the disabled vehicle is. For those closer to the road or on it, there is a higher likelihood the occupants should exit the vehicle, when safe to do so, and move well off the roadway on foot. The farther away the vehicle is from the roadway, the more likely the occupants can stay in the vehicle for safety.

Hopefully, some of these recommendations will help people who have similar circumstances that have recently happened or will in the future. As always, the employees of the Sheriff’s Office and I stand ready to answer any questions people might have. For those with new year’s resolutions, let me encourage you with Ephesians 4:22-24 which says, “…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Feel free to contact me at sheriffjeffbullard@gmail.com. Thank you and stay safe, everyone.

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