The Sheriff’s New Truck

Last month, the Sheriff announced the arrival of two new vehicles, “paid for in part with a USDA grant.” First of all, I’m glad they got them. They desperately need them.

But there are a couple things you need to know. The Sheriff is taking credit for getting a $25,000 grant, but did you know that it was actually a senior County Board member and another County official that really did all the work?

The documents were all signed by the board member, and supporting documents were prepared by the County Clerk. I have found no documents showing the Sheriff was ever involved in the grant process.

Furthermore, when I asked for the grant documents (three times) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Edgar County Sheriff Department refused to give them to me. I’ve been told the Sheriff was overheard saying “Don’t give him a damn thing.”

This is either illegal, or just plain dumb. If they have copies, and not providing them, they’re acting illegally. It’s public information, and you have a right to know about it.

If they don’t have copies, they either weren’t involved at all, or just can’t manage their office. Who doesn’t keep records?

So I got them from another County Office. The grant was approved in August of 2017 and USDA notified ECSD of the approval in early September 2017. The vehicles were FINALLY purchased a YEAR later in September 2018. A year later!

Who takes that long? The Board member did his job and got it approved, a YEAR ago. So why the massive delay on the Sheriff’s part? There is still some question in my mind whether they missed the deadline to actually receive the funds.

The Sheriff is now proudly driving his new $36,000 2018 F150 Pickup, but it’s completely unsuitable for road duty. No takedown lights for vehicle stops. No alley lights for burglary investigations, no markings, no emergency radio console, no cage for transporting suspects. But he’s driving it.

Let’s talk about the new $32,000 Explorer that was picked up last month. It was briefly parked behind the jail for the publicity picture, and then promptly removed and has been MIA ever since. The Sheriff told the County Board they are “just waiting on lights.”

They took a year to order it, months to go pick it up, and now they’ve had it in their possession for a month and it is STILL not on the road. Deputies are STILL driving older, less reliable vehicles.

Is this how you want your tax dollars spent? Personally, I would never have gotten a pickup truck for myself, nice as it is. I would have gotten two suitable road vehicles, and made sure the Deputies were driving them.

I would never have waited a YEAR to get them, and I wouldn’t be personally driving a vehicle unsuitable for patrol. But patrol is important to me.

When elected, I suppose I’ll have to drive it, but you can be sure I’ll put lights, siren, radios, markings and a cage in it. I will use it on patrol. And the missing Explorer? I hope they find it soon. You paid for it.

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

Church Security

I’ve been fortunate to participate in some excellent Active Shooter training over the years. I’ve stood side-by-side with some great police officers in great training scenarios.

It’s important to me that I’m personally prepared for the worst case scenario. That’s why I train, and why I keep training.

Make no mistake. If we get the call, we’ll go, and we’ll do our jobs. But what concerns me, is that we might not be able to get there in time. You need to know what to do, too.

In the recent church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX, the shooter killed 26 people, before being stopped by an armed citizen who happened to live down the street and heard the shots.

Survivors who were actually in the church, said the shooter stalked up and down the aisle, shooting anyone hiding down in the pews. If he heard people whimpering, he came back and shot them again.

Here’s the deal. When it hits the fan, you have about 20 seconds to get moving and get out. If you can’t get out, you have to get to cover.

If you have a weapon and know how to use it, you have a fighting chance. But you need some training to be effective.

So I teach churches, groups and other organizations what to do. If people have Concealed Carry, and it’s allowed there, we begin with the basics, like controlling fields of fire, muzzle and trigger discipline, and what to do when the Police arrive.

it’s also important to have a mass casualty kit with the basics. Learn how to apply pressure bandages and tourniquets. EMT’s won’t be allowed into the scene until it’s secured.

Some churches actually form security teams. Others prefer to handle it informally, letting their CC members function as shepherds.

It’s best if you secure the entrances, and have someone there watching. Control the access, and be prepared to make an armed response.

But even if you don’t have a weapon, there are some things you can do. It sounds silly, but you can throw things like books or bibles at the attacker, to distract them. If enough people attack the bad guy, you can overcome them.

I teach what we call “3rd Party Disarm” of a rifle, and “3rd Party Disarm of a handgun. The truth is, if they’re pointing the weapon at you, you’re in trouble.

However, if they’re pointing it at someone else, you actually have a pretty good chance. You can come at them from behind or from the side, using their own tunnel vision against them, and take their weapon.

I saw this work perfectly when I was working with a local church just a few days ago. I had set up a couple scenarios so they could get a realistic idea of what to expect.

In one of the drills, a feisty 76 year old woman actually counter-attacked my 30 year old assistant who had come in “shooting”. It was amazing.

She came out of her pew, and pushed him off balance, into the next pew! Another woman in her 60’s, seated across the aisle, actually took the pistol away!

My goal as your Sheriff, is to continue to help churches, schools, and other groups learn how to protect themselves. I want to help you assess your sites, and make suggestions on how to make them safer.

I’d like to go beyond that, too. I’d like to hold regular police training at different schools and other locations on off days, perhaps once a month or every other month, on a Saturday morning.

Another important area is training with EMT’s and Paramedics wearing tactical armor. With the right training, they can accompany a quick response team into the active scene, and help save lives sooner.

We need to do all of these things so everyone stays sharp! You can’t be too prepared. But just in case, I want you to be prepared too!

You are your first line of defense. God bless, and stay safe!

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

Big News, Really?

I’d like to make a few comments about the most recent successes of the ECSD, specifically the burglars that were caught on video.

I’m very happy that they identified the suspects. I don’t think it warrants taking a couple of victory laps, however. Especially now, before an election.

This shouldn’t be big news. It should be routine. Crimes being solved should be a normal occurrence.

Great job to the owners who had the foresight to place the cameras. But it was actually normal police procedure to look for video, catch screen shots, and utilize social media to broadcast the information to a wider audience.

It was a tip from an individual who recognized and spotted the vehicle, and got the license plate. That was relayed to a deputy, which led to identification of the first suspect.

Sure, the deputy followed through, and they interviewed the suspect, but this is what should be happening all the time. But there are dozens of crimes that never got solved. Dozens of complaints that were never followed up on.

Perp walking a twice-arrested suspect on drug charges just so you can get your picture in the paper is pretty desperate.

And once again, if you ever see my name on a departmental Facebook page post, you can be certain that I actually wrote it.

The Failed Jail Inspection

Did you know the Edgar County Sheriff Department failed another jail inspection? Their most recent report reveals very poor performance in many critical areas.

All quotes are from the Inspection Report, in the Inspector’s own words. All of the failures outlined are in areas that the Sheriff can control.

Jailers are supervising and transporting prisoners without the proper training and certification. According to the inspector, “Of the 3 full-time officers on duty during these inspections, 2 had yet to complete basic jail officer training.”

The Sheriff has failed to secure them spots in the academy classes! This shows a lack of planning and follow-through. It also creates liability for the county.

Certain classes of prisoners must be separated. But the inspector found: “As before, the jail lacks any records which indicate necessary classification reviews are being conducted.”

The inspector continues, “…inmates advised they are not assigned to a particular cell on the unit…” and “Jail staff…do not enforce that they remain there.”

“Detainees are permitted to hang clothing, towels, sheets and other items from the walls of the cell blocks obstructing the view of jail staff doing their tours.”

Who’s in charge here? Prisoners should be assigned a cell, and made to remain there. They must not be allowed to obstruct visibility.

The jail itself has been a cause for concern for years. But the inspector found “All areas within the facility are in need of major repair. Many of the sinks and/or toilets are in need of repair.”

“Some light fixtures were being held in place with pieces of torn clothing or socks, dangling.” They continue, “The cell block areas are lined with exposed wiring and some had even been spliced together by the detainees.”

The inspector goes on to say, in one case, “This non-compliance has continued through several inspections…”.

Regarding medical treatment, “Medication logs are not being filled out by staff.” One inmate went “three weeks with a MRSA infection before any action was taken to take her to the doctor.”

The inspector noted that another inmate had been “caring for the sick detainee, dressing her wound, etc. and that she had no medical training.” They continue, “Jail staff did not dispute her claim.”

“Shower curtains were moldy and being held in place with pieces of socks or other garments that detainees had torn into order to hold the curtain up.”

“Because of the lack of running water and flush toilets in the upper cell block, it is impossible to lock detainees in their individual cells.”

This isn’t humane, or secure, and it also opens the county up to liability. We don’t need more lawsuits.

Speaking of security, “On the second day of the inspection one staff member was walking around the secured jail area with his handgun on his person.” The inspector continued, “No one should be allowed to enter the secured area of the jail with a weapon upon their person.”

A correctional officer “left his keys in the cell block door while the chuck hole was open, as well as the the secure door being propped to the remainder of the jail.”

“Exterior doors of the jail were opened…while the fence around the back of the jail was also insecure. These insecure doors created an unobstructed passage to the parking lot of the jail.”

I don’t blame the ECSD staff. It’s a matter of training, and they have a tough job. But all these things are completely unacceptable. They are also completely in the Sheriff’s control, and would have little or no impact on the budget.

They just require a Sheriff who pays attention to detail, follows through, and can maintain proper training, standards, and supervision. They require a Sheriff who wants to do it.

I’ll be a working Sheriff who takes all of these things very seriously. I’ll work very hard to bring the ECSD back into legal compliance and operate the jail safely, humanely, and securely.

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff

How We Can Pay For It

I’ve had a great response to my ideas, but occasionally, I’ll see a question about how we’ll pay for them. That’s fair. I’m happy to answer them.

But sometimes, they’re a little snarky. One person referred to “promises they (me) can’t keep” and “we don’t have the budget for anything.” O.K. Here you go.

It’s funny, the sheriff just found thousands of dollars to get himself a new pickup truck (grant not withstanding). I guess we had the money for that.

I’ve already proposed a used but fully equipped Indiana State Police Charger, ready for patrol for $5,000. That decision alone would have saved the taxpayers thousands.

My plan to increase patrol is pretty simple too, and doesn’t actually cost us any more money. We just have to reallocate some of the crazy dollars they are already spending on overtime.

According to the Prairie Press (Oct. 28, 2017), “for the last three years the sheriff’s department overtime has been approximately $140,000.” With $60,000 already on the books this year, O.T. will likely reach $90,000 for 2018. Possibly $100,000.

Is this the best use of your taxpayer dollars? Surely we can find room for a Detective somewhere in there, and increase our patrol at the same time, and the Deputies will still get some overtime. It’s the nature of the job.

I’ll dramatically increase the part-time roster too, so we have a deeper bench. This is very cost effective because when you’re in a jam, you get good, trained help, for a fraction of the cost.

I’ll also bring back the Auxiliary Deputy program and utilize them whenever appropriate. There’s very little cost associated with this, besides some training time, and equipment (clothing, radio, etc).

Regarding my approach to increasing our presence at the schools, it costs nothing to simply drop by before school, just to be there. It costs nothing to stop by and have lunch with the kids. All it takes is a decision.

Finally, you have me. I’ll be a hard working, and often patrolling Sheriff. If we can’t find that other officer to help cover a shift, I’ll do it. I like doing that. I’ll also be there for backup and extra coverage during the busy times.

However, there are a couple of things that I won’t do. I won’t disappear for 4 years and then start showing up in posts on the Sheriff page, right before the election. I won’t conveniently have my picture taken in a Federal arrest of someone we already arrested.

I won’t be hard to find either. If you call me, I won’t avoid calling you back. I won’t say I got a grant, if I didn’t actually write the grant. I won’t say “I’ve been involved every step of the way” unless I’ve actually been involved every step of the way.

Finally, when you see a Facebook post with my name on it, you can be absolutely sure that I wrote it myself, not someone else. I’m Tom Dolan, and I actually wrote this message.

Sincerely,

Tom Dolan

2018 Candidate for Edgar County Sheriff