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Friday, May 6, 2016

Sheriff, prosecutor candidates answer pre-election questions

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Greencastle League of Women Voters presented pre-election questionnaires to the candidates running for the offices of Putnam County prosecutor and sheriff.

Here is a sampling of their responses:


* What are your qualifications for this position? What distinguishes you from your opponent?

Tim Bookwalter

My record shows the difference from my opponent.

Meth cases have been reduced 91 percent during my time in office. This happened as a result of my Stop Meth program. Meth cases doubled each year my opponent was in office.

Second, I have actively prosecuted deadbeat parents. I have prosecuted 284 parents and collected over $1.3 million in back support. Only 33 people were prosecuted in the last five years while my opponent was in office.

Third, I have toughened sentences on child molesters. My opponent dismissed or reduced child molesting charges 79 percent of the time.

Robert Perry

I have been a lawyer for 36 years and practiced law in Greencastle for 17 years. I was a deputy prosecutor was eight years; I tried every kind of case from truancy to murder and also did extensive work in juvenile court.

Before moving to Greencastle I was an assistant United States attorney in Indianapolis. In the early 1980s I was a law professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, teaching courses in criminal law and criminal procedure.

Both Mr. Bookwalter and I are experienced attorneys, but I have more experience with white collar and financial crimes than he.

* What do you see as the most important issue facing the prosecutor's office in the next four years?

Tim Bookwalter

Drugs remain the most important issue. Even though we have reduced meth 91 percent, we still have to remain vigilant.

We need to continue to lock up the dealers, treat users after short-term incarceration, seize the profits and cars of the dealers and keep educating the public, especially our youth. If we do these things, we can keep it under control.

The second drug area of concern is prescription drugs. There are not as many cases but it is a more lethal drug, and it is abused by young people in greater numbers than meth.

To combat it will take a whole community effort. Physicians, parents, schools, law enforcement and our youth have to recognize we have a problem, and be part of the solution.

Robert Perry

The citizens of Putnam County need to be confident that the Prosecutor's Office will fairly and impartially enforce the law. There can be no special deals for special people. How a case is handled cannot depend on who the accused is or who he knows or how connected his lawyer is.

The office needs to be careful to fully investigate situations before charges are filed. Citizens need to believe that the law will be fairly administered and that law enforcement itself is obeying the law. In that regard, we need to be sure that money seized on I-70 is allocated in accordance with state law and the proper proportion of that money is paid to the school fund.

The State Board of Accounts, in its most recent audit of the Prosecutor's Office, has taken the position that Putnam County, at present, is not complying with the law.

* What ideas do you have for working with young people in the schools, educating them and developing good relationships so they are less likely to get involved in criminal activities?

Tim Bookwalter

My ideas for young people in school are in practice. They are as follows:

* All fifth-graders attend juvenile court. My office pays the costs for all fifth-graders to attend court. This is the perfect age to have an effect.

* Red Ribbon Week. I sponsor this week where the anti-drug message is brought to every school.

* Teen Court Project. Juveniles are judged by their peers in an actual courtroom. My office funds this program.

* Post Prom Safety. My office donates money to each post-prom committee on the condition that a safety program is presented to the students before prom and graduation season.

* Child Abuse Dolls. My office purchased dolls with computers for Greencastle High School to educate children about child abuse.

* 4-H Fair. We give out drug information and 1,000 drug-free t-shirts each year to our 4-H youth.

Robert Perry

When I was in the Prosecutor's Office, one of my main duties was to be the deputy in charge of juvenile court. As prosecutor, I plan to do much of that work myself, because juvenile court is the point in the criminal justice system where we have the best chance of turning someone around.

I regularly serve as a judge for the Putnam County Teen Court, and that is an excellent program and has been very well-received. I plan to be very active in the schools in the area of drug education; however, there are no programs or speeches that can be as effective as good, involved parents.

All of us, parents, school officials and law enforcement personnel, need to work together so that our young people get the best possible start in life.


* What are your qualifications for this position? What distinguishes you from your opponents?

Steve Fenwick, Republican

What distinguishes me from my opponents is that I am a career law enforcement officer.

I have been with the sheriff's department for 29 years. I have experience and knowledge of our jail on how it is maintained and budgeted that my opponents do not have.

I am also a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. The past two years I have served as your sheriff, and I continue to be accessible to the public daily.

As your sheriff, I have been a commander responding to serious situations and emergencies at a time when experience matters most.

Joe Tesmer, Independent

I have served the Putnam County Sheriff's Department as a reserve and merit deputy.

What distinguishes me from my opponent is that I believe that "protect and serve" is the most important thing -- not politics or the good old boy system. I will be a working sheriff. I will treat the public with dignity and respect, while basing decisions on what is best for you, the public, not me.

I believe that all deputies should obey the law. I believe our department should work hand in hand with the community to solve problems and form partnerships.

* In your opinion, what is the most significant law enforcement issue facing Putnam County?

Steve Fenwick, Republican

In my opinion, the most significant issue facing Putnam County continues to be drugs. No matter what drug we speak of -- methamphetamines, cocaine, heoin, marijuana or prescription drugs, each drug brings harm to those who use them, and potential harm for all others surrounding them. Drugs are usually the underlying factor for most thefts and burglaries, as criminals search for easy ways to make money to purchase more drugs.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department continues to be the leading agency in the state of Indiana for seizing drugs and drug money from our roadways. We don't stop there; we have active members working to locate dealers and users in our community and stop the spread of drugs to our children.

We have our K9s in the schools to deter our youth from drugs, and will continue to works with the schools to educate our children about drugs and their harm.

Joe Tesmer, Independent

I believe the most significant law enforcement issue facing Putnam County is drugs.

The drugs that are used most are meth, marijuana and prescription pills. The drug use is increasing in and out of our schools. I would like to see more education of these issues for teachers and youth in our community.

If deputies could be more involved in the day to day school environment with our children, we could encourage conversations regarding drug use and its dangers.

With unemploymentrising, the department can't ignore the rise in thefts and domestic violence. Programs need to be in place to combat these issues in the community.

* What programs would you offer inmates for better use of their incarcerated time, such as work crew or GED programs?

Garry Clark

The work crew program taxes manpower while allowing unnecessary risk of escape, which may lead to citizens being injured and greater demand on manpower.

Jails are for inmates, and inmates belong in jail. I will cause all inmates to maintain the jail using tools known as brooms, mops, bleach, Lysol, wax, paintbrushes and paint.

The television will have the Weather Channel locked so that all prisoners know the weather outside. I will allow educational and vocational activities, providing the programs are revenue-neutral, with taxpayers not footing the bill. I will allow clergy to attend the spiritual needs of inmates providing that not one public dollar is spent on those activities.

Those inmates who cooperate will receive rewards through privileges, while those who do no cooperate will enjoy lost privileges.

I hope all agree that regimentation, hygiene and labor combined will motivate inmates to resist return to our facility.

Steve Fenwick, Republican

We currently provide these programs: Thinking for a Change, GED, Substance Abuse Phase I and Phase II, AA and domestic violence classes for women. We maintain clergy visits and conduct church services. Inmates are given recreation, and some participate in art contests.

Department of Correction inmates are allowed to work in the kitchen, laundry room and general cleaning and sanitation within the jail. No Department of Correction inmates are allowed to leave the jail.

County inmates earn privileges to work outside the jail. Some jobs they perform are car washes for all law enforcement agencies, school buses and Rural Transit buses. They mow grass at several cemeteries and county-owned properties. They assist with labor for county maintenance jobs and painting county offices. They have also assisted with Habitat for Humanity houses. These inmate workers continue to save the county thousands of dollars a year while working and becoming better citizens.

Joe Tesmer, Independent

The work crew program works well for some inmates, and they should earn the privilege of the program,

For inmates needing a GED program, I would like to work with the local schools and teachers to have a program that allows inmates the proper class so they may obtain a GED.

Education has been shown to prevent some habitual behavior, especially in criminal activities.

Mental health and life-skill programs should also be incorporated in the jail on a weekly basis, so that inmates have the skills to be able to function in society as productive citizens.

Programs need to be provided to inmates for drug and alcohol addiction while they are incarcerated.