New GPD officer hiring spawns some old fears

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Greencastle has a new police officer and the same old set of concerns.

The Board of Public Works and Safety Thursday selected 34-year-old Seth Doty of Greencastle as a new patrol officer for the Greencastle Police Department. He replaces Eric Vaughan who left the department earlier this year to take a Community Corrections post in Vigo County.

Doty was one of two officers interviewed by the board Thursday before formal action was taken. The other candidate was Jensen Clement, 26, of Plainfield.

Neither Doty nor Clement has attended the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, a point which makes city officials a bit leery. Several times in the past the city has hired an officer, paid to put him or her through training at the academy, only to see that officer leave to take a better-paying position with another department.

Prior to his selection, Doty, who was recommended by the GPD Board of Captains, was asked by board member Trudy Selvia, “How do we keep from losing you to the Sheriff’s Department or to Plainfield or Danville?”

“This is my backyard,” Doty responded. “As far as pulling me from the police department, it’s not going to happen. Greencastle is my hometown, my address, where my kids are growing up. This is my goal, this is where I want to be. This is where I want to train the people who come after me.”

The 2005 North Putnam High School graduate said his passion has always been his community.

“My hometown is important to me,” Doty said, “and one way to give back to my family is to keep the community safe.”

Addressing the board’s concern about retaining officers after they have graduated from the academy, Greencastle Police Chief Tom Sutherlin said recent salary increases implemented by the city “hopefully will help” and have made GPD salaries competitive with other departments.

“They can go to Hendricks County and make more money,” the chief added, “but they’ll probably have to pay more taxes” not to mention face a higher mortgage and cost of living.

Chief Sutherlin, who will soon turn 53, noted he has served the city for 31 years, and lived in Greencastle all but the first nine years of his life. “We’re going to fight to keep Seth here,” he said, “and anybody else.”

If they want to leave, the chief added, “you can’t judge them for that but only wish them well.”

Turnover hasn’t occurred as often as it has at times in the past at GPD, a fact Mayor Bill Dory said bodes well for Sutherlin.

“You’ve served as chief for quite a few years,” he said, “so we’ve had some consistency in management.”

The mayor also told Doty that “in a small town, you don’t get pigeonholed” as officers continually are given new and varied responsibilities.

Doty currently serves as a security officer for Walmart at Crawfordsville following a prior stint at Danville. He also has experience as a Putnam County jailer, a Putnamville Correctional Facility guard and K9 officer as well as working for Homeland Security in downtown Indianapolis. He graduated from Vincennes University in 2008 after studying law enforcement.

Clement, meanwhile, said she has been involved in the National Guard for two years with training in law enforcement and riot control.

Certified as an EMT, she currently works in an electrical supply warehouse at Plainfield.

Sutherlin said the hiring process initially began with 17 candidates. Background checks were done on 10 of those before they were presented to the Board of Captains, which whittled the final candidates to Doty and Clement.

Selvia made the motion to hire Doty, pending PERF (Public Employee Retirement Fund) approval. After a second by Craig Tuggle, Mayor Dory made it unanimous.

The Board of Works is next scheduled to meet in regular session at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 14 at City Hall.

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  • Spending money to educate your employees only to have them leave you for a higher paying job is a frustrating experience. In private industry this problem is somewhat alleviated by a contract where the employee "earns" the cost of the education by his/her service to the organization over a period of years. There are many formulas used. A common practice is for the employee to earn the cost of the education at a rate of 20%/year of service following the education. If the employee stays with you for five years after you have paid for his/her education they are free to seek employment elsewhere without obligation. If they leave prior to the end of the agreed time frame, they owe the organization a pro-rated amount of the education expense based on how long they served the organization. A unit of government might want to consult with their attorney and come up with a similar contract that would be agreed to by both parties.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Fri, Jun 18, 2021, at 5:31 AM
  • I would suggest the City Council seriously consider the fact that GPD is way underpaid when compared to the surrounding counties. It is a lot to expect to hire someone who has already been to the academy. You have to keep up with the pay of other counties if you expect your police officers to stay.

    -- Posted by Queen53 on Fri, Jun 18, 2021, at 8:52 AM
  • You need to figure how much time they have to work for the Dept. and have them sign an agreement that if they leave before this amount of time they have to pay back the city for their training. Indianapolis police Dept. has done for years.

    -- Posted by Togafarm on Fri, Jun 18, 2021, at 8:57 AM
  • I understand the arguments but do we want to support taking away the freedom to earn a living how we see is best for our family? It is easy to put in and support restrictions that don't apply to us.

    There is risk in any investment. It is life. The key is competition. Make the position so attractive that people want to stay.

    I understand competition and freedom are not positive words for some but I still feel they are ideas that are valid

    -- Posted by beg on Fri, Jun 18, 2021, at 9:08 AM
  • Togafarm....Indianapolis law enforcement are paid a lot more money than they are here. Like comparing apples to oranges.

    -- Posted by Queen53 on Fri, Jun 18, 2021, at 10:20 PM
  • This should be like an apprenticeship. The town is going to give you an education that will allow you to move up the ladder. So you need to pay them back for the education you got. There is no free lunches. Taking a few years to repay for your education should not be to much to ask. If the town would put this into job interview so candidate knows this is part of hiring it shouls not be a problem.

    -- Posted by Togafarm on Sun, Jun 20, 2021, at 1:05 PM
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