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Henry County town working to fund deputy for regular patrols

SPICELAND, Ind.—Spiceland’s council has worked for three years to get even one deputy to be on regular patrol for the town.

The town, which is about 15 minutes from New Castle, is struggling to find enough money for a police presence without raising taxes.

Spiceland is served by both Indiana State Police and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. But for years, neighbors have told council vice president Pam Stigall and her fellow councilmembers that they want to see a sheriff’s deputy regularly patrolling. They envision fewer speeders and drivers ignoring stop signs.

“They’re unfortunately looking at other small towns, even in our county and they have a law presence and we don’t,” said Stigall. “They’re saying, ‘Why can’t we? We’re bigger than some of the other smaller towns in this area and they have a law presence.’”

And Stigall believes a deputy could even help stop more serious crimes, like people using drugs at a local playground.

“It’s disturbing because that’s a park for little kiddos,” said Stigall. “You don’t want little kiddos going up there and finding a needle or something of that nature, which doesn’t happen very often, but we’d rather it not happen at all.”

With a small budget, they’ve found it hard to make the math work.

Right now, they only have Local Option Income Tax funds, which only gives the council $576 a month with which to hire a deputy.

“You have to have contributions and matching funds for a lot of grants these days, which is understandable, but in small towns it’s kind of difficult to obtain,” said Stigall.

Without matching funds, the only grant options available typically require a community to already have an established law enforcement presence.

Essentially, Spiceland needs money to hire a full-time deputy, but can’t qualify for many grants until they have one.

“We’re number crunching right now,” said Stigall.

Stigall says the only other option would be a tax hike, a choice she’s leaving off the table for now.

“Many of our constituents are fixed income and they’re short on funds,” said Stigall. “It’s very tight and we don’t want to raise taxes for this.”

In the meantime, Stigall is still working with Henry County Sheriff’s Office to find ways to stretch the small budget to hire a deputy for as many hours as possible until she can find a full-time solution.

“We will come to an agreement,” said Stigall. “I’m positive about that.”