5 new sheriff’s cars being outfitted

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Harmonic Electronics employees Ryan Yoder, left, and his son Wade, prepare wires for the grille lights to be installed at the Dubois County Sheriff's Office garage in Jasper on Tuesday. 

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

JASPER — Five plain white Dodge Chargers are going from drab to fab this week in the basement service bays of the Dubois County Security Center.

The cars are the newest additions to the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office’s fleet. Harmonic Electronics Inc., 607 Newton St., Jasper, gets the job of taking those blank canvases and adding striping, light bars, computers, printers and everything else the sheriff’s office provides its deputies.

Chief Deputy Chris Faulkenberg says three of the new cars are needed after the sheriff’s office hired three new deputies. The remaining two allow the department to immediately replace two 8-year-old, high-mileage cars that have experienced non-stop use. Who gets what vehicle will be determined after a needs assessment, he indicated.

The new cars may have looked plain before being outfitted, but calling them drab is not really fair. They feature powerful hemi engines, are all-wheel-drive models and come with a heavy-duty police package.

Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter says the sheriff’s office got the cars for a little over $24,000 each and is adding roughly $8,000 worth of equipment ranging from strobing lights and a cage separating the front and back seats to window tinting and a Stop Sticks carrier in the trunk.

Harmonic Electronics, Inc employees Ryan Yoder, left, and his son Wade prepare wires for the grille lights to be installed at the Dubois County Sheriff's Office Garage in Jasper on Tuesday. 

Performance makes them an officer favorite. The fact that Dodge sends police-package Chargers with wiring harness leads stubbed off and ready for equipment installers is one reason they are a favorite law enforcement vehicle to outfit for Harmonic Electronics’ Ryan Yoder of Holland.

Harmonic Electronics has been doing police car installs for the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office for a long time. Harmonic is a family business started by Ryan Yoder’s late father, Randall “Randy” Yoder, and his mother, Donna (Swartzentruber) Yoder.

Ryan, 46, can remember being a 6-year-old eating bologna sandwiches while his dad worked on sheriff’s office cars at an old jail site in Jasper, long before the Dubois County Security Center came into being. Veteran deputies speak reverently of Randy Yoder, who passed away in December 2014 at the age of 63.

His father, a “deep tech” guy, never retired, Ryan says. Randy was from Montgomery and was raised a Mennonite. He was a basketball-playing valedictorian at Barr-Reeve High School who graduated from ITT Technical Institute and worked in communications until founding Harmonic Electronics in 1979.

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Harmonic Electronics employee Ryan Yoder installs a custom center console into a new sheriff's vehicle at the Dubois County Sheriff's Office Garage in Jasper on Tuesday.

ow Ryan and his son, 21-year-old Wade Yoder, are the ones pulling seats and factory weather stripping out of new cars and drilling holes in roofs and trunk lids to run wires as they install custom law enforcement vehicle packages.

Ryan refers to himself as a “nuts and bolts” guy. His skillset can find him climbing into the cab of an excavator to prepare a site for a new communications tower that Harmonic Electronics has built, then, later, putting on a climbing harness and running cable up to the top.

“If there’s a job in front of you, I’m the kind of person I just want to do, do, do, do, do,” Ryan says. “That’s what I want to do — just do. I always liked working with vehicles. I like vehicles, mechanical things, heavy equipment.”

He won’t cop to being the boss, instead referring to himself as an employee of a true family business.

His mother, Donna, and sister, Desiree Yoder, both of Jasper, are involved just as much as son Wade. Donna does accounting, scheduling and fields calls. Sister Desiree does accounting and is the health consultant for Harmonic Electronics, which provides sales, service and installation of all manner of radios, plus electronics that even include the monitoring and alarm systems that keep water systems and wastewater lift stations operating.

Harmonic Electronics employees Ryan Yoder, right, and his son, Wade, measure the roof for the light bar to be installed at the Dubois County Sheriff's Office Garage in Jasper on Tuesday.

After consulting with the sheriff and chief deputy about the markings and equipment wanted for the new Chargers, Ryan placed orders for decals and electronics. He prepped for this week’s install by covering work tables with cardboard inside the security center’s service bays. In addition to laying out wiring harnesses, bolts and label makers on the tables, the cardboard also allowed for writing down vital measurements and notations.

There were also cable ties. Lots and lots of cable ties to fasten down all the new wiring harnesses being added to the police cars.

Security center maintenance man Brad Gudorf passed through the jail’s service bays as Ryan and Wade worked on the new cars. One of Gudorf’s duties is decommissioning old police cars leaving the fleet. That means he often peels off the decals and snips off the cable ties that Ryan once installed.

“This guy does a fine job,” Gudorf said as Ryan continued working. “You get about 15 pounds of zip ties when you decommission a car he’s done but everything is neat and in order, like it should be.”

No matter what patrol vehicle gets issued to deputies, Faulkenberg said, it is not uncommon for officers to become attached to them.

“That car is our office,” said Faulkenberg, a former patrol sergeant.




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