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 Council, Public Support Baker for Police Chief

August 29, 2007 - Although it would be nearly a week before the Knightstown Town Council hired Danny Baker to fill the town's chief of police vacancy, he was clearly the favored choice of most of the more than 20 members of the public who attended the town council's August 15 regular monthly meeting.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Indiana State Police Trooper and Knightstown resident Chuck Butler told the council he thought Baker, who was appointed interim chief by the council at their July 18 meeting, should be hired as the town's new police chief. Butler's comment brought loud applause from many in attendance.

Butler told the council he had spoken with Baker, a Knightstown Police Dept. patrol officer from 1982 to early 1989 who was rehired this past February as a part-time officer, and that he liked his ideas about law enforcement. He also told the council he thought they should hire KPD reserve officer Derek Hall to fill the full-time patrol officer vacancy on the roster.

As it turned out, the council followed Butler's advice. Immediately after an August 21 executive session at which it interviewed two final candidates for the chief position and four applicants for the patrol officer opening, the council held a special public meeting and unanimously approved Baker's and Hall's hiring. They replace, respectively, former Chief of Police Earl Patterson, who resigned in early July, and officer Chris Lane, who was terminated by the council in late May.

Speaking to The Banner last Thursday, the 56-year-old Baker said he appreciated the support he had received from members of the public and the town council.

"It's very humbling," said Baker. "It make me feel good that they've got that kind of confidence in me. … I'm going to try, to the best of my ability, to have a very professional and courteous department. I think the people of this town will see a lot better department coming at them."

Under his leadership, Baker said the KPD will focus more on in-town and side street patrolling. "It will be a slower patrol, actually, so we can see more," he said, adding that drivers should also expect to see heavier enforcement of traffic laws, especially during the times that students are traveling to and from school.

"We're not targeting kids necessarily, because we're stopping adults as well at those times," Baker explained. "But we need to slow the traffic down in town." Other priorities for the KPD, Baker said, will include establishing a neighborhood crime watch program, and working to reduce the prevalence of illegal drugs in town.

Baker said he was pleased that the council hired Hall as a patrol officer. "Derek is very professional and outgoing," he said. "We are going to hit heavily on drugs, and Derek's a good one for that because he has had some drug intervention experience."

In addition to Hall, the council also hired another full-time officer at the August 21 meeting. Joseph Priest, who is expected to begin work September 20, will replace KPD patrol officer David Loyd, who, because he did not meet all the physical standards for entrance into the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, will have to step down.

Baker said that Loyd has expressed interest in continuing on with the KPD as a reserve officer. However, he said that decision will ultimately be up to the town council.


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