Rapid growth of businesses in western Hancock County fuels concern about public safety in the area


HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. — A rapid growth of businesses in western Hancock County is fueling concerns about public safety in the area.

Community leaders are now calling for assistance from officials at the state and county level.

From an Amazon warehouse which employs over a thousand people, to a second Amazon facility set to open soon, as well as a massive Walmart distribution facility being built, western Hancock County is seeing a lot of development.

That has some residents worried that public safety budgets are failing to keep pace.

“You have to staff public safety to match the growth,” said county resident Janet Feeney.

Last week Janet called the sheriff after she saw someone trying to break into her neighbor’s home.  Following the call, it took deputies nearly 15 minutes to arrive.

Janet believes the slow response time illustrates how public safety is being compromised by growth in the area.

“It was a very scary 15 minutes and I just keeping playing in my mind what if,” said Feeney. “I feel like it’s a huge public safety concern.”

The Hancock County sheriff admits some Janet’s concerns are valid and next week he plans to ask the county council to approve an increase in pay for his department to help retain his staff and will ask for more money to add to his staff at a meeting in July.

“At the township level, the model is not conducive to allowing growth to match the pace of progress,” said Buck Creek fire chief Dave Sutherlin.

The Buck Creek fire chief supports the business growth but believes statehouse leaders need to reevaluate tax rates and assessments for fast growing areas.

Right now, funding is tied to the number of residents, not the number of people working in the area.

“The message I have is to change the funding for the township model,” said Sutherlin.

As an example of resources that are needed to respond to large businesses, over just five months the fire chief says more than 70 sheriff and fire runs were made to the current Amazon facility near I-70.

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