At the beginning of 2007, Gerald and Jeanette Bills were the only Chaplains to visit the Sheriff’s Department on a regular basis. Now ten additional individuals regularly visit along with numerous others who assist with the Tuesday afternoon cell block ministry and the Sunday evening church services.
Training and professionalism are tied closely together. The professionalism of any group or organization is greatly enhanced as training is increased. Some of the training in the last three years includes computer forensics, highway drug interdiction, Excited Delirium, jail medical issues, jail staffing methods, Human Resource and hiring practices. Sheriff Hodges also instituted mandatory first aid/CPR and defensive tactics training.
Several accomplishments have occurred in the past three years for the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. A tremendous upgrade was made to the video security system. The old original black and white security cameras along with the non-working recording system were replaced with digital color cameras and a digital video recording system. Numerous incidents and crimes within the jail building have been solved because personnel were able to review the constant digital recordings that are being made.
Changing the inmate commissary to in-house rather than out-sourcing the products has increased profits more than 500 percent. These profits have allowed Sheriff Hodges to add needed equipment without using budget funding.
In mid year of 2007, Sheriff Hodges contracted the inmate health care to Health Professionals, LTD. Out-sourcing this service has proven itself by saving the County thousands of dollars and setting protocols that greatly assist all employees of this department.
Beginning the Department’s first canine unit is another accomplishment that Sheriff Hodges credits to the deputies and others that encouraged initiating the program. They solicited funds from area businesses and citizens resulting in two officers and dogs being trained at no cost from the department budget. Both officers and their K9 partners have been utilized numerous times on traffic stops, school searches and public programs.
The evidence room was moved to the basement in an effort to streamline evidence handling and retention. The former evidence room was about 77 square feet and the new room is more than 300 square feet. This increase in space allows for better handling of firearm, drug and cash evidence.
Goals for Sheriff Hodges’ second term include the use of a video conferencing system. Under his direction, the Sheriff’s Department has been making aggressive attempts to secure funding from various sources for this important equipment. Video conferencing would save money by decreasing the number of prisoner transports because the prisoner would make his or her court appearance via video equipment. Prisoner security would be increased because many inmates would make their court appearance from the Whitley County jail rather than being walked across the street. Sheriff Hodges also wants to continue upgrading the evidence room with additional movable storage shelves.
Sheriff Hodges thinks he has gotten a good start with positive changes and improvements to the department. He believes much more can be accomplished in a second term. He cites Lee Iacocca in his book “Where Have All The Leaders Gone?” “Here’s the test of a leader: When he leaves office, we should feel better off than when he started. It’s just that simple.” This is the philosophy of Sheriff Mark Hodges, and for that reason he is asking for your support in the 2010 election.