County approves school officer, body cam funding

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The Dubois County Council tackled safety matters Monday as members heard funding requests from Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter.

Council members agreed to provide the additional funding needed to have a school resource officer in the Southeast Dubois County School Corporation and to purchase body and car cameras for county officers.

The total funding, about $80,000, will be added to the county’s 2020 budget.

Kleinhelter wants to have a seasoned officer from the sheriff’s office become the school resource officer and hire a new deputy for the open position. Southeast Schools will provide $70,000 for the officer. The contract will be just like the county’s contract with the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation, Kleinhelter said.

The deputy would be at the schools for the school year, which is about 36 weeks, at 40 hours a week, he explained. When school is not in session for holidays, school breaks and the summer, the deputy would work for the sheriff’s office as a deputy, he said.

Kleinhelter told the council that Northeast’s school resource officer, Tim Lampert, took 102 calls during the spring semester. This summer, he worked 135 calls for the county.

When asked about the Ferdinand Police Department contracting with the district, Kleinhelter said that the department cannot afford to provide an officer for the entire district. An officer does visit Ferdinand Elementary School and Forest Park Junior-Senior High School; but Cedar Crest Intermediate School in Bretzville and Pine Ridge Elementary School in Birdseye are outside of the department’s jurisdiction.

The Southwest Dubois County School Corporation has a contract with the Huntingburg Police Department, which allows the officer to patrol the schools in Huntingburg, as well as Holland Elementary School. Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools contracts with the Jasper Police Department.

The school districts’ contribution is partly funded by a state school safety grant. Should that state funding stop, the additional cost could come to the county, Councilwoman Charmian Klem noted.
“I don’t honestly see this grant lasting forever,” Councilman Doug Uebelhor said. “So we will eventually have to cover this.”

The council members agreed that the officer is needed, even if the state funding stops. “It wouldn’t be fair to pull this from the schools,” Councilman Mike Kluesner said.

Along with funding for a school resource officer, the council also agreed to provide the estimated $42,000 needed each year to enter into a five-year contract with BodyWorn for body cameras and car cameras for county officers.

“We don’t own the equipment. We get the service,” Kleinhelter said. “So if anything breaks down, they will cover the cost to replace it.”

BodyWorn will provide all the needed equipment and will cover fitting the cameras into the officers’ uniforms.

The contract covers 17 in-car cameras for road officers, and 20 body cameras for all officers. Since another deputy will be added for the school resource officer position, an additional body camera will need to be added to the contract, Kleinhelter said.

The cameras can be turned on manually by the officer or automatically with various triggers, such as if an officer responding to a call is within a certain distance of a location from which the emergency call was made. Kleinhelter will not have the cameras automatically come on when the officer removes his gun from the holster, because officers do that a lot when they are helping out at the security center or going to the restroom, he said.

The council agreed the cameras are needed.

“This brings credibility to the police officers, an added credibility,” Councilman Craig Greulich said.

“It’s like an insurance policy,” Kleinhelter added.

The Jasper Police Department is also contracting with BodyWorn for cameras. The Tell City Police Department and Perry County Sheriff’s Department also use the company, Kleinhelter said.




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