Hardin said after seeing the numbers, he and his seven deputies went to work to break them down and complete mounds of paperwork to apply for federal grant money.
The work paid off. For the first time, Boyle County's sheriff's department has received federal law enforcement grants.
Hardin said the money came from two sources and has been used for two different purposes. The first grant, which required matching funds, was used to outfit the deputies with bullet-proof vests.
The second came from the federal Highway Safety Grant program and must be used for vehicular and safety enforcement. Hardin said the money was used to purchase three radar guns, a first for the department.
"It involves a lot of paperwork," Hardin said. "You have to show statistics that prove you need the money, and that your enforcement efforts back it up. We're competing against much bigger police forces, and it's tough for a small department to qualify."
Hardin said he will continue to apply for grants, and the department will focus on the statistics on the rise.
"Traffic accidents were a real red flag," he said. "We saw that jump, and that's why we went for the grants, and we'll apply for more. We'd like to be able to use some to fund overtime to run enforcement efforts, checkpoints, that kind of thing, to get on top of the problems.
"We're going to make ourselves visible with the radar," he said. "There are some spots in the county where people take advantage of the speed limit, and I believe the best way to slow them down is to be out there, be seen with the radar. Word gets around pretty quick, and if we can slow people down, we believe we can drop the number of accidents."
Hardin said accidents involving alcohol in the county stayed about the same in 2003.
"We didn't break the numbers down, but we haven't noticed a change one way or the other," he said.
Plan calls for Elliott to be chief detective
As far as investigative efforts are concerned, Hardin has submitted a plan to Boyle Fiscal Court that would certify Marty Elliott as chief detective.
"That's one of my big worries, that we don't have the manpower or the time to investigate cases as quickly as I'd like," he said. "I'd like to see Marty become a full-time detective and focus his time on investigations. It would be a big asset to the office, and to the citizens. When they call, they want help, and I'd like to be able to be quicker about giving that help."
Hardin, who took office in January 2003 after serving as a deputy under retired Sheriff Karl Luttrell, said he's reached one goal by providing 24-hour coverage seven days a week, but some days that means the department is stretched to its limits.
"With all our office is responsible for, including tax collection, prisoner transport duties and bailiff work, along with our normal law enforcement duties, we get short-handed sometimes," he said. "My goal is to eventually get 10 officers in here. I know that's a pretty high goal, but it would free us up to actually work normal shifts and keep 24-hour coverage."
Hardin estimates the department works 95 percent of the calls it receives.
"The other five percent are answered by state police and Danville, but only when our officers are on other calls," he said. "We do a pretty good job answering our own calls, and we help out in Junction City when they need help, and we even do some calls in Danville. Both of those places are part of the county, too."
Still, Hardin said the numbers tell him the department is progressing.
"We're going in the right direction," he said. "All our deputies are in this for the right reasons. They're willing to go the extra mile to do what's needed, not just when they're on duty."