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Primary predicaments

The sheriff’s race is heating up, and two recent squabbles involving the incumbent candidate, G. Michael Deatrick, have led two opposing candidates in the May Primary to cry foul.
Mickey L. Hendrich, who owns and operates Classic Style beauty salon on Water Street in Corydon, said she had met with Sheriff Deatrick, a long-time close friend, in January concerning the procedure and rules for cutting hair at the jail. The next day, however, a call from Corrections Capt. Bruce LaHue changed her mind.
The taped conversation in January, she said, shows LaHue’s intimidation that cost her the business.
LaHue, during a phone conversation, said to Hendrich: ‘I heard you was going to run for sheriff and fire me when you get to be sheriff.’
Hendrich: ‘Well, I might. It’s my choice.’
LaHue: ‘Any truth to that? I think it would be interesting for you to run for sheriff.’
No response.
LaHue: ‘What I called about, I understand you’re going to be coming in to cut hair now.’
Hendrich: ‘Yeah.’
LaHue: ‘OK, I just want to make you aware that you can’t be bad-mouthing me, the sheriff or any officers with the inmates when you’re in here cutting hair. I don’t care what you do in your shop. But the first word comes out of your mouth when you’re in here cutting hair, I’ll put your a– on the street. We clear?’
Hendrich: ‘Is that a threat?’
LaHue: ‘No. That’s a promise. You open your mouth about me around the inmates or about the sheriff to the inmates, I will put you on the street. You will be out of this jail. You won’t even be able to come back in the front door. That’s a promise; that’s not a threat.’
Hendrich: ‘Then, I’ll just call back up there to talk to the sheriff, because I, I mean, I don’t appreciate that.’
LaHue: ‘You can talk to the sheriff. I don’t appreciate you running your mouth about me in front of one of my officers. I’m a uniformed officer and here you’re running your mouth about me and the sheriff. You pretend to be the sheriff’s friend and then you run your mouth about him.’
Hendrich: ‘I don’t have to listen to this.’
LaHue: ‘You, you’re a blow-hard.’
Hendrich said she and her family worked hard in the last election to get Deatrick elected, but their friendship no longer counts. She called the sheriff after LaHue’s call, deeply hurt, and asked the sheriff for an apology but none has been made. ‘I have still not heard anything from him,’ she said last week.
LaHue said no apology is called for because his concerns were for security at the jail. He thinks Hendrich’s comments, like ones she had made to others, would cause the inmates to lose respect for the authority of police and that would cause problems, could even incite a revolt.
‘In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have used the word ‘a–,’ but that’s the way she talks,’ LaHue said.
‘I wouldn’t go out there now, not on a bet,’ Hendrich said. ‘Bruce LaHue has cost me money.’
She said that includes the $7 charge for each hair cut for the inmates and nine clients who have been told not to come to her shop.
Deatrick said he stands behind LaHue.
‘I didn’t see that he did anything wrong,’ Deatrick said. ‘I will follow right behind him on that.
‘I don’t feel he said anything worse than she said about me.’
LaHue said his call started off as ‘something silly. It just ended up in bad taste.’
In another matter, though, Deatrick said LaHue’s actions were not authorized and a letter he wrote to the commander of the reserve officers’ force would be withdrawn.
In that letter, LaHue tells Major Robert Stem, who commands the unpaid, volunteer reserve force, that Reserve Officer Michael Gregory will no longer be allowed in the secure area of the jail.
LaHue referred to an inmate Gregory brought to the jail in November 2005, who, despite Gregory’s ‘pat down,’ had vials containing methamphetamine taped to the inside of his thigh.
Gregory said while he had routinely frisked the man for weapons, a complete examination doesn’t take place until a prisoner is brought to the jail for lock up.
LaHue also wrote that Gregory’s comments in The Corydon Democrat on April 5 about his bid for sheriff in the Primary Election concerned an ‘open investigation (the Jan. 20 shooting on Interstate 64) and the administration of the department.
‘I feel this violates the chain of command, confidentiality of the justice system, and possibly undermines the authority of not only myself, but all involved in the administration of the department.’
But Deatrick said Gregory is currently in good status, and he had instructed LaHue not to respond to Gregory’s comments until later. ‘I told him everything was on hold until a later date,’ Deatrick said.
The last thing the sheriff needs is to be perceived as trying to silence an opponent in the election, Deatrick said.
In his letter, LaHue said: ‘I realize this action may be viewed as political in nature and that would be true to the extent that Michael Gregory is using his position as a reserve officer to obtain information for personal gain. I support the political process but draw the line when the security of the facility is compromised … ‘
‘It’s not a security matter,’ said Gregory. ‘It’s a political matter.’