Field officer safety at top of mind for county

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

A discussion about radio upgrades led the Dubois County Community Corrections Board into a discussion Tuesday about requesting that the county’s 911 dispatch take calls noting that field officers are at a particular house visit.

Corrections Director Megan Durlauf presented information and costs to reprogram radios that were donated to the department by the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department, and to get a repeater that is needed for field officers to communicate to the center when they are out making home visits.

Currently, officers text Durlauf when they are at a location. But that requires her to be available and watching her phone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which has her concerned about the officers’ safety. A better method would be to have the radios, which other staff working at the community corrections center would have.

“Something has to change,” Durlauf said. “I can’t be at my phone from 8 (a.m.) to 8 (p.m.).”

The board asked why 911 can’t take a call. Durlauf said that she made the request but was told that dispatch is not able to take the non-emergency calls.

Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter said it was his concern that if the field officer makes the call to dispatch, a deputy will automatically be dispatched to the area.

A deputy would not have to go out unless there was an emergency situation, board members noted. The call is to just note the field officer’s whereabouts, which is done with other emergency personnel.

“It’s all the county,” Dubois Superior Judge Mark McConnell, another board member said. “Why can’t we use the same system?”

The 911 Advisory Board will meet Monday. Community corrections board member Chad Blessinger, who is also a county commissioner and member of the 911 board, said he will bring up the matter at the meeting. Durlauf and corrections board members are welcome to join in the discussion, he said. The public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday at the 911 center, 1198 S. St. Charles St.

In the meantime, the corrections board gave Durlauf permission to spend up to $5,000 to reprogram radios and get a repeater installed, if needed. She is going to see if the center could use the repeater the sheriff’s department already has.

 

The board also:

• Tabled purchasing a truck for the department. They want Durlauf to see if there is any trade value for a van the department has but rarely uses.

• Added a conflict of interest clause to its bylaws, which state auditors said is needed. It requires that any board member who has a material, personal or financial conflict of interest in a matter abstain from voting in the matter.




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