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 Local Policeman to Join County SWAT Team

July 2, 2008 - The Knightstown Town Council recently voted to allow one of the town's police officers to join the Henry County SWAT team.

At the council's June 18 meeting, Chief of Police Danny Baker recommended that Derek Hall, a full-time patrol officer with the Knightstown Police Department, be permitted to join the county's special weapons and tactics squad. The council approved the recommendation by a vote of 4-1.

Baker told the council that the town will be responsible for Hall's actions as a SWAT member, and that Hall, a recent graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, will be using his KPD patrol car when responding to SWAT calls. He also said the town will have to pay Hall during his 16 hours of SWAT training each month and pay for the officer's ammunition.

Council member Steve Nelson cast the lone dissenting vote, saying, "I don't believe our budget at this point in time warrants spending that kind of money."

Baker told the council that Hall had gotten about 90 percent of the equipment he needs for the SWAT team donated from an Army surplus store in Greenfield. He also said that the department may be able to use some of its continuing education funds to help defray the cost of Hall's ammunition.

The council was less receptive to Baker's request that KPD officers be permitted to use their KPD cars and uniforms while working for a private security firm. Baker told the council the town's officers can earn up to $20 an hour doing part-time work for a security firm run by former Henry County Sheriff Kim Cronk, who is now a captain with the HCSD.

"I'd like to see them have that opportunity," Baker said.

Council President Valerie Trump said that while the KPD's policies don't expressly forbid this, past practice has been for the council not to allow officers to use KPD cars and uniforms while working private jobs. Nelson said he was worried about the liability that use of a KPD car by an off-duty KPD officer could create for the town, and council member Terry Guerin expressed similar concerns.

The town's new attorney, Gregg Morelock, told the council that concerns about liability could possibly be addressed through a contract between the town and the security firm. While he said it's not uncommon for police officers to do private part-time work of this nature, he said the town needs to make sure it has certain protections in place.

In another police matter, the council unanimously upheld a verbal reprimand Baker recently gave officer Dan Denny for dereliction of duty and insubordination. Denny had filed a grievance against Baker, challenging the chief's decision to reprimand him for an incident that occurred May 30.


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