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 Town Council Approves More Police Policies

April 4, 2007 - Just a month after adopting revamped standard operating procedures for the Knightstown Police Department, the Knightstown Town Council approved additional policies at its March 21 meeting that will also affect the KPD and its officers.

With very little discussion, the council voted unanimously to establish defined patrol area boundaries for the KPD and to require officers to live within 10 miles of town. A third policy dealing with personal use of patrol vehicles by officers, however, was left unresolved.

Currently, the KPD's full-time officers get to take their patrol cars home with them. The new policy the council was considering last week - introduced by council member Cort Swincher - would have restricted passengers in the patrol cars to authorized personnel and members of the officers' immediate families who have signed waivers agreeing to hold the town and KPD harmless for any injuries they might sustain in an accident.

Council member Steve Nelson said he thought the town's insurer had previously said waivers like those mentioned in Swincher's proposed policy weren't acceptable. He said he thought the town should confirm the insurer's position on this before approving the new policy.

Council member Valerie Trump pointed out that the wording of the proposed policy requires the insurer's approval before it can take effect. She said she thought it would be better if the council was able to approach the town's insurer with a policy that has already been approved.

Swincher said he favored talking to the town's insurer about this issue and said he thought it would be a good idea to look at the policies of other police departments that allow their officers to have family members ride in their patrol cars. Council Vice President Nate Hamilton suggested checking with the Henry County Sheriff's Department, and the issue was left to be dealt with at a future meeting.

In another KPD-related matter, the council passed on first reading an ordinance that will, once enacted, establish basic employment qualifications for officers. The ordinance will also require officers who receive certain training after being hired to pay the town $2,000 in liquidated damages if they leave the KPD within the first 24 months of their employment.

A Knightstown resident, Lea Hinshaw, asked the council about a complaint she had filed against a KPD reserve officer. Council President David Glenn said he had given copies of the complaint to council members for their review, although Trump said she had not seen the complaint.

Hinshaw told the council she had not been satisfied with Glenn's initial response to her complaint. Glenn told Hinshaw it would not be a problem for her to meet with the whole council to discuss this matter. (The council scheduled a special meeting to address Hinshaw's complaint for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, at Town Hall, 26 S. Washington St. - Ed.)

The council approved two other ordinances on second reading at the March 21 meeting. Once passed on third reading, the first ordinance will increase the hourly wage of the KPD's head dispatcher to $12.50 an hour. The second ordinance will, if enacted, annex two residential properties just to the west of town near Knightstown High School. A public hearing and final vote on the annexation ordinance are scheduled for the council's April 18 meeting.

The council's attorney provided them with a court order approving the demolition of a residence at 203 S. Washington St. The council agreed to let the demolition work out for bid, and their legal ad indicates that bids must be submitted to the town's clerk-treasurer by Tuesday, April 17, to be opened by the council at its meeting the next evening.

Greg Hochstedler, owner of Boondocks Farms, received permission from the council to place a four-foot by eight-foot sign near the NAPA Auto Parts store at U.S. 40 and S.R. 109. He said the sign will have a wooden frame and feature a metal surface that will permit use of magnetic strips and lettering to advertise upcoming events.

The council also heard a brief presentation from Dianna Wallace, executive director of the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children. At Wallace's urging, the council agreed to issue a proclamation recognizing April as "Month of the Young Child," and gave permission for the IAEYE's Henry and Rush County chapter to place purple ribbons and bows around lamp posts on the town's public square to be on display throughout April.

The council approved Richard Swincher as a new member of the Knightstown Volunteer Fire Department. Works Manager Mel Matlock, himself a KVFD member, told the council that Swincher was very enthusiastic about joining the department and would be a good asset to the KVFD.

Matlock advised the council that he will be advertising for a part-time secretary for the cemetery and for a full-time lineman for the town's electric department. He also provided the council with a list of possible paving projects and said he would like to open paving bids at the council's April meeting.

Nelson and Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines both reported on the leaking rubber roof at town hall. Haines said she hopes that new heating and cooling work done at town hall and the roof repairs can be made for $40,000 or less. Glenn said the town had received one bid for the roof and was expecting one more.

Knightstown Chief of Police Earl Patterson provided the council with the KPD's monthly report and told them the department had received sufficient donations to pay for five TASER electronic control devices. He said the donations would also cover the costs of a video recording device that attaches to the TASERs and a demonstration package. He was expected to travel to Danville, Ill., the day after the meeting to pick up the equipment.

Patterson also reported that officer Chris Lane was expected to leave March 26 for training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, which he would finish in July. Patterson said he had two or three potential candidates for the three open positions the KPD has for part-time officers.


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