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Sat, Aug 30, 2014 08:16 PM
Issue of August 27, 2014
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County's number of officers lags behind others


My Opinion


April 02, 2014 | 11:24 AM

I support Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye and his request for more officers. I attended the tailgate party the sheriff's department hosted before the last county council meeting, mainly to take photos for the newspaper, but also to support the sheriff (I mean, free hot dogs right?).

The only political sign I've ever placed in my yard was a yellow-and-blue one of Seelye's.

Question of the Week
Do you think the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. should have more road officers?
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What he's done within the department in a short period of time — through training, restructuring and an overall new mind-set — is tremendous.

Officers are much easier to reach and speak with than they were before his tenure began. And it's not all for show either, as arrest statistics for a number of crimes can attest.

With all that being said, I didn't have a problem with, and certainly wasn't surprised by, the county council's decision to table the request until budget sessions, which normally take place in August and September.

Even as council leadership and members have changed during the past few years, one constant was the fact that they did everything they could not to add new employee positions in the middle of the year. Adding a new salaried position — or five — would throw quite the wrench in the budget already established for the year, even if it is riverboat gaming money being used. Additional appropriations are one-time expenses, compared to new positions (different from new hires, which happens all the time throughout the year), which will stay on the county books perpetually.

I have no doubt the council will act upon Seelye's request favorably this summer and provide for at least two or three officers for 2015 and probably the other two requested in subsequent years to follow. And it should, as Seelye's statistics are hard to ignore.

The newspaper publishes pertinent runs for service from the sheriff's department, since it's public information, and it's easy to see the sheriff's department is busy. It's hard for the paper to keep up with number of runs that continues to pile up. And, generally, only the runs resulting in a report taken or an arrest are published, which is about 25 percent of the total calls.

Seelye has instilled a motto throughout the department of "Second to none," and the department is, by all accounts, second to none operationally.

Statistically speaking, however, when it comes to total number of officers in the department compared to nearby and similar counties and departments, Harrison County is far from second to none, to no fault of its own, in staffing size. When comparing runs for services and population versus total number of officers, Harrison County's ratio lags behind Floyd, Crawford and Shelby counties, as well as Corydon and New Albany departments, to name a few, and some quite significantly so.

That needs to change. And it will, just not as quickly as some would like.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    April 03, 2014 | 06:18 PM

    With the general fund having to bailed out each year in larger and larger amounts, we don't need to be adding new county jobs or programs. Rather, we need to be looking into cutting spending and the county workforce. Do this by not hiring new people when others retire. Cut back on the percentage the county pays for employee dependents on county paid insurance to those comparable to the private sector.

  2. print email
    Rod Seelye
    April 04, 2014 | 11:10 PM

    The professionalism, structure and work ethic Sheriff Seelye has brought to the Sheriff's department is a breath of fresh air compared to the prior regime.

    John L. Smith
  3. print email
    Sheriffs Dapartment
    April 05, 2014 | 04:15 PM

    Here we go again, small town politics in a large county. Does not work well. You trust that the police will be there when you are in need, but shame on them when they ask for a little help. There is something wrong with how this is going, the police have families that they want to go home to as well. Its not a matter if a policeman will face death in our county, but when. I think as the public we should support our police and show them that we care by not tabling such an easy decision.

  4. print email
    adding police officers
    April 05, 2014 | 07:45 PM

    I would welcome the addition of as many officers as the county can add to ensure the safety of its citizens. Living and working in Harrison County it's hard on an officer when they are 2-4 officers on duty with the overall responsibility for all of Harrison County. Bring'em on and don't procrastinate. This is a need for all of us and should be welcomed with open arms.

    Chris Roy
  5. print email
    Safety
    April 06, 2014 | 07:11 AM

    One thing I am sure of. If there is a shortage of officers and I'm in trouble, I'd rather have an officer respond than to wait because there aren't enough of them. Something to think about if you're in trouble or your family is in trouble

    dist 31
  6. print email
    April 07, 2014 | 10:43 AM

    If someone is committing a crime against you or one of your family members anywhere in a county this large. What do you think are the odds and are you willing to roll the dice. That a police officer is nearby or not tied up on one of the 23,000 calls last year to help you or that family member, when we have so few on duty. I hope for your sake the officer is nearby. Because if your in a area far out or the officer is on a call far out it's going to be well, you know the rest.
    I'm still trying to figure out who the County Council works for because from the last meeting with overwhelming support of this. They did not or will not listen to their constituents voice.

  7. print email
    April 07, 2014 | 12:32 PM

    We need to be cutting spending, not increasing it. This request may be well meaning, but we can't afford it. People's property taxes went up this year. Adding more spending will only increase them more or will cut into county reserve funds.

  8. print email
    April 08, 2014 | 11:32 AM

    Something between two-thirds and three-quarters of your property tax bill goes to your local school corporation. It doesn't go to county government.

    If your property taxes went up, you should probably be looking to your school board.

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