Residents attending Monday night’s Medora Town Council meeting offered some positive praise for police.
While the town just has one full-time officer, Marshal Mark Stargell, and a few reserve officers, community members say they notice more of a police presence.
Whether it’s town officers, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department officers or Indiana State Police troopers, they hope the increased law enforcement will deter criminal activity.
“I do want to say that I feel like it seems like there has been more police activity, more than has been done here in a while,” resident Sharon Bowers said.
She said she has witnessed people freely exchanging drugs in the open, but police hope more of a presence in the community will help put a stop to that.
Resident Calep VanArsdale said he also has seen drug activity in vehicles.
“It’s not a good example to pass on to the children of this town,” he said. “I know we have police action in Medora. Just the visual, driving through slow, that helps.”
Resident Kristi Bane said it would be good to have police presence during the late night and overnight hours. She, however, noted drug activity and other types of crime occur at all hours, especially when people know police aren’t on duty.
“I’m up all different hours of the night, and I’ve seen state police in town at 2:30 in the morning, I’ve seen county in town at 3:30, 4 o’clock in the morning,” council President Jerry Ault replied.
Ault assured residents town officials are working together to reduce crime.
“Between our officers, we’re getting help from the county, so they are working on it,” he said. “It’s going to take some time, but we’re working on it. It’s a work in progress. At least it’s not a free-for-all anymore.”
Ault said one thing currently underway is working with Jon Craig, business development manager for Midwestern Engineers Inc. of Loogootee, to apply for a grant to hire a police officer.
“The time already went by (to apply) and we’ve got to wait until next year, but they’ll pay half of his wages for X amount of years,” Ault said.
Clerk-Treasurer Betty Campbell said years ago before she started, the town received a similar grant, but the marshal at the time didn’t reapply, so the town had to use its funds to pay two officers.
“We didn’t have the funds to pay them because we couldn’t get any more money,” she said. “The town marshal at the time was supposed to put in for more money, and he never did. Our funds were in the red when this was over because when I took over in 2000, the general fund was in the red big time, but it’s not in the red now.”
Ault said the council has time to do more research on how the grant would work.
Stargell also proposed bringing back a reserve officer who served under the previous marshal.
“To me, it’s kind of a two-sided coin,” Ault said. “He had the job and he quit, but you guys (Stargell and reserve officer and town employee Steve Ingle) can’t always be here. I myself personally wouldn’t have anything against him. It’s a whole different ballgame now (with a new marshal). We need more police presence in town, and these two can’t always be around. Some police presence is better than none.”
Campbell asked what the town would have to provide, and Stargell said that usually covers the expense of a uniform.
Stargell also shared quotes to replace the reserve car, which recently had to be fixed. When Campbell saw the cost, she said she isn’t sure the town could afford it.
“Eventually, the day will come when we will have to get one,” Ault said.
The council didn’t take any action and decided to take it under advisement.