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Fri, Jul 25, 2014 05:06 AM
Issue of July 23, 2014
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Sheriff wants 'best department in state'


March 12, 2014 | 08:32 AM

Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye took his new officers request to the Harrison County Council Monday night and said it's part of his and chief Wayne Kessinger's plan to make the department the best in the state.

"There's been a need for some time (for more officers) but we had to prove ourselves," Seelye said.

He said his department needed to gain the public's trust before asking for more officers.

"It's important we don't front load our department and all we do is respond to runs," Seelye said.

Since taking office in 2011, Seelye has created a detective bureau and, with the proper training and command re-alignment, the department can now investigate any and all crimes. Nothing is thrown in the filing cabinet to never be opened again, as was the practice in the past, Seelye said.

Council Chair Gary Davis said they've always listened and tried to help the sheriff with his requests, but it's a matter of whether the county has the funding or not. With three new car purchases, the worst-case scenario cost would be about $475,000 for five new officers.

A salary for each officer position will be about $35,000, but, adding in all of the insurance, retirement, etc., it comes out to about $75,000 per officer per year, assuming family insurance is needed.

Davis said the county would have a major problem supporting the department as it stands now if riverboat gaming funds reduced or went away entirely. He said it's probably a matter of when, not if, that happens with threats from surroundings states and within the Indiana Legislature as well.

Later in the meeting, Davis asked the sheriff what would be done differently with the new officers that isn't done now. And Councilman Phil Smith asked if there are any runs now that they department hasn't been able to respond to.

Seelye used a recent pursuit situation as an example to explain the manpower shortage. He said his officer on pursuit of a vehicle was alone in that pursuit for 43 minutes before receiving back-up, and that back up came from a conservation officer from Crawford County.

"The bottom line is the county is growing," he said. "What is expected of us to accomplish is growing."

Councilman Jim Heitkemper asked if he was asking for a higher number of officers in hopes of at least getting some help.

"I said ask for 10 to try to get five," Kessinger said. "Five is what we need."

Seelye said every exit leading out of the jail has "Second to none" written above it.

"Those aren't just words ... When we're out of here in one or five years, our legacy is that we want to leave the best department in the state," he said. "We're already getting close to that."

Seelye's presentation included statistics comparing Harrison with other county and city departments in the area.

Harrison County has one officer for every 1,734 people in the county compared to one for every 1,294 in Floyd County; one for every 552 in New Albany; 444 in Corydon; and 333 in Crawford County.

Davis said he doesn't like to compare counties because no two counties in the state are the same.

Councilman Ralph Sherman said he's never heard a complaint of officers not responding to calls in a timely fashion.

The request will be available to vote on at the next council meeting.

In other business, the council tabled a request of $11,000 for the auditor to purchase iPads for all seven councilmembers, three commissioners, auditor and legal counsel for both the council and commissioners. The system would cut down on paperwork for meetings.

The board approved $26,250 for part-time help for the parks department and $40,000 for overtime for the highway department.

The next council meeting will be Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    Ask for 10 in hopes of getting 5
    March 13, 2014 | 08:28 AM

    All respect to Sherriff Seelye, but this is BS. If I go to my boss and ask for 5 new computers in hopes of getting 3, he is going to say no. He is not going to ask, can you get by with 3? IMO, and I admit I'm naive to the fallacies of government, this should be an up or down vote. The Sherrif should show supporting evidence for 5 officers and that should be what he asks for. What happens if he gets 6? Will one officer be sitting at Dairy Queen drinking coffee with his car running because there is a lack of work?

    C'mon, let's be honest and not waste the people's time and money.

    Straight Shooter
  2. print email
    Ask for 10 in hopes of getting 5
    March 13, 2014 | 09:07 AM

    All respect to "Straight Shooter" the Harrison County Sheriff's Department needs more than 5 or 10 officers to adequately police Harrison County. Simply deploying 2 or 3 officers per shift in a county the size of Harrison County to respond to dispatched calls for service, investigate crashes, etc. is a flawed design. The current staffing levels do not provide the number of officers necessary to combat the ongoing battle with methamphetamine, heroin and the abuse of prescription narcotics destroying our community. Theft, burglary, robbery, etc. are all crimes that are fueled by a drug problem that has destroyed the quality of life for many of our friends and families. As for officers sitting in the DQ parking lot wasting time with the car running, where would you suggest they complete the paperwork for their crash and case reports? Should they "hide" somewhere to complete reports or would it be a better deterrent to be visible by those that may wish to break the law. Should they turn their cars off when they are sitting there, will their computer and radio system work without the car running? Questions I don't believe you or I can answer, that's why we elect a Sheriff. The Sheriff is an elected official voted on by the people to manage the Sheriff's department for the people, I'll leave decisions like where officers should do paperwork or if their car needs to be running to him. Sheriff Seelye, Chief Kessinger and their staff have been a blessing to the HCSD and the people of Harrison County. I for one would appreciate seeing my tax dollars paying for additional officers to combat the real problems in our community.

    R U Serious
  3. print email
    March 13, 2014 | 10:49 AM

    The sheriff as done a GREAT job thus far...

    As long as the police follow the law and not become a police state here in Harrison County.

    DO NOT take any federal DHS money. Selling our souls for a piece of the "civilain force just as strong as the military"....

    We do not need that in America, let alone Harrison County.

    Remember even if there is no ill intention now...does not mean a crooked sheriff couldn't get in later...because we never had a crooked sheriff before...:)

    Just Sayin
  4. print email
    Another Viewpoint...
    March 13, 2014 | 12:11 PM

    I believe Davis' comments about where the funding would come from once the gambling money goes away are quite pertinent. Is these some law that prevents the county from putting away some gambling funds and earmarking them to "endow" [for lack of a better term] certain department operations? Can we "endow" or otherwise earmark a percentage of the return on investment for banked gambling funds to pay for police...or the auditor's office...or the county clerk's office, for example?

    If there's no legal impediment to doing so, we need to "endow" some of these county departments...YESTERDAY. and if there IS a legal roadblock, maybe we need to ask Representative Rhoads and Senator Young to introduce legislation to REMOVE those roadblocks.

  5. print email
    Sheriff Wants Best Department
    March 14, 2014 | 09:14 AM

    Answer for "Another Viewpoint" above, the County has been setting aside funds in the County Foundation for a number of years. This endowment is now over $50 million.

    My concern with the Sheriff's request is the same as Chairman Davis's. I think that the Sheriff has done a great and to strive to be the best is great. However, I requested that we study what over counties our size has to the number of police and equipment. It never hurts to have as much information as you can get.

    Gordon Pendleton
  6. print email
    How many officers
    March 14, 2014 | 11:16 AM

    My comment was based on "Councilman Jim Heitkemper asked if he was asking for a higher number of officers in hopes of at least getting some help.

    "I said ask for 10 to try to get five," Kessinger said. "Five is what we need.""

    That is from the experts. If the Sherriff says he needs 10, I believe him. He didn't say, I would like to have 10, or it would be nice to have 10. He asked for 10, but "Five is what we need" -Kessinger

    My argument was that if you need 5, only ask for 5. If you need more ask for more. If you only need 5, then it stands to reason anything above that would be a waste... And therefore sitting at DQ not working.

    Straight Shooter
  7. print email
    March 14, 2014 | 01:59 PM

    As Pete Shickel likes to say, the job of the County Council is to separate our wants from our needs.

  8. print email
    Rod Seelye
    March 21, 2014 | 02:32 PM

    I for one appreciate the good job Sheriff Seelye is doing. In these days of negativism, disrespectful behavior among those we should trust, I am glad to see our current Sheriff be a respectable public servant. I trust his entire staff to help our county. Maybe we should support him?

    Cheryl Proctor
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