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County’s number of officers lags behind others

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

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.
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.