Posted on

‘Major accomplishment’ for HCSD

‘Major accomplishment’ for HCSD
‘Major accomplishment’ for HCSD
Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye shares a laugh with Gary Underwood, a former inmate at Harrison County Jail, following an accreditation hearing for the sheriff's department last Tuesday night. Photo by Ross Schulz

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. last week received accreditation from the Commission of Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies recognizing the department’s professional excellence.
On March 6, a public hearing took place at the Government Center in south Corydon with lead assessor Thomas E. Bennett, Chief of Police, Suffolk, Va., and team member Sue Madsen, Chief of Police, Milford, Ohio.
Law enforcement officials, community members and former inmates took to the podium to heap praise on Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye and the department, one after the other, for about an hour.
Former inmate Steven Lynch, of Corydon, said he had been a nuisance to the community for 10 years.
‘With the last sheriff, me and a lot of the people I used to run with pretty much done whatever we wanted in this town,’ he said. ‘Then when Rod Seelye came in and his determination to get the drugs off the streets pretty much took everybody I knew off the streets. We didn’t always see it as a blessing then, but we see it as a blessing now because all of us are clean and sober.’
Lynch said for the last two years he goes back into the jail regularly ‘ willingly this time ‘ to take part in jail ministry.
‘I owe my life to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.,’ he said. ‘If they wouldn’t have been so good at their job, man, I probably would have died out there … ‘
Clark County Sheriff’s Dept. chief deputy Brad Jones said Seelye opened his office to him to show him Harrison County’s policies regarding the jail and the department as a whole.
‘He gave me unlimited access,’ he said. ‘That’s the kind of guy he is.’
Jones said Seelye took over Harrison County when the department was in a bad place.
‘Everyone is buying into what he’s saying,’ he said. ‘It’s hard to see that in a police department a lot of times. It takes a long time to get people to buy in. I don’t know how he sold it, but he did.’
Jones said Seelye has spent a lot of money on training of his officers that he could have spent selfishly in other places.
‘It’s how sheriff’s departments work; you see it all over the state … sheriff in trouble, doing crazy things with money. Rod Seelye doesn’t do that,’ he said.
Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said, for the past eight years at the sheriff’s department, anything less than excellence has been unacceptable.
‘The greatest compliment I can give a police agency is if something were to happen to my family, my kids, I would want them to investigate and, ultimately, seek justice for my family,’ he said. ‘Without a doubt, if something were to happen to my kids, I’d want the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. to investigate it.’
Schalk went on to say the relationship between his office and the sheriff’s department is a benchmark in the state of Indiana for how agencies are supposed to co-exist.
‘It’s a delicate balance,’ Schalk said. ‘You have an elected sheriff, elected prosecutor; that’s a lot of ego for one room. We’ve always been able to put that aside and work towards the common goals.’
Floyd County Sheriff’s Dept. Chief of Police Wayne Kessinger, who formerly had the same post in Harrison County, said to say the department was a challenge and going through a dark period when Seelye took over is a gross understatement. On Jan. 1, 2011, just after midnight, when Seelye took over, Kessinger said he jumped in one police unit and Seelye got in another to run the road shifts with officers.
‘He wanted to get the department where it needed to be so the guys that worked here owned their own department,’ he said. ‘The day we leave, it’ll be their department.’
Seelye’s vision was to bring the officers on board and make them a part of the change.
‘Everything we did, the officers were a part of that,’ he said.
Kessinger called the accreditation of the jail, and now the sheriff’s department, a major accomplishment.
The CALEA is an independent accrediting authority established in 1979 by the four major law enforcement membership association. The purpose of the Commission’s accreditation program is to improve delivery of law enforcement services by offering a body of standards, developed and approved by law enforcement practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date law enforcement practices. It recognizes professional achievements by offering an orderly process to address and comply with applicable standards.
Other witnesses speaking on the department’s behalf included representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Secret Service, Pastor Tim Johnson, South Harrison Community School Corp. Supt. Dr. Mark Eastridge, Commissioner Charlie Crawford, Councilwoman Holli Baker Castetter, Meade County Sheriff William (Butch) Kerrick, Comfort House Advocacy Center Director Donna Lloyd, Auditor Chad Shireman and multiple former Harrison County Jail inmates.