Support Your Local Sheriff
Writer / Alaina Sullivan
Photos / Provided
If you live in the unincorporated Johnson County area and have a problem requiring law enforcement, your first line of protection is the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, despite your Greenwood address. Many are not aware of this fact or what the Sheriff’s office does to protect the community every day.
That protection starts at the top with Doug Cox, Johnson County Sheriff. Cox is a lifelong resident of Johnson County. He started his career with the Franklin Police Department, coming to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. Cox has served in the Sheriff’s office totaling 35 years with five of those years being Sheriff for Johnson County.
HOW IS HE PAID?
Cox’s salary is determined by state statute. In a county with an excess of 100,000 citizens, the Sheriff’s salary is to be set as a percentage of the Prosecutor’s salary. For 2015, his salary is set at $123,356.
In years past, Cox said, Sheriffs did receive extra funds from meal monies or tax warrants, but he does not receive funds for any of those activities.
By Indiana statute, the Sheriff’s office is responsible for maintaining the jail, serving warrants and serving civil process papers.
The Sheriff’s office employs approximately 150 people, divided into five different departments. These departments include enforcement, individuals who are road officers; investigations; corrections; reserves; and civilian employees, including cooks, administrative assistants and others.
Most residents are not aware, but the Sheriff’s office actually has quite the working relationship with the Greenwood Police Department. While they have their separate jurisdictions, they are always available to help each other out.
“When I started at the Sheriff’s Office in 1987, it was not uncommon for the Sheriff’s Office personnel to tell the Greenwood Police Department personnel to stay out of our jurisdiction and vice versa,” said Cox.
However, relations are much different today. “When we need each other’s help, we don’t hesitate to ask,” said Cox.
The territory the Sheriff’s office covers has changed throughout the years, said Cox. They have lost areas they covered in White River Township to annexation by the Town of Bargersville and the City of Greenwood. Cox is curious to see if the I-69 construction will affect this as well.
JAIL CROWDING A CONCERN
The main area of concern for the Sheriff’s office involves population management in jail, said Cox. The jail’s capacity is at 322 beds. The problem? Currently, they have 337 inmates in the jail.
“The State Legislature passed House Bill 1006 recently that moved people out of the State Prisons for Class “D” and “C” felonies and pushed those people back to the local communities. This has caused a problem here in Johnson County,” said Cox.
Johnson County was in the top five of Indiana counties sending people to the Department of Corrections for Class “D” and “C” felonies. However, the State wants to see people come back to the local level and be put in treatment programs to try and get them to stop repeat offending, he said. This would require them to go into our Community Corrections program here in Johnson County.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing people who can’t follow the rules who are violating in large numbers,” said Cox. “Those people do not go back to the Department of Corrections. If they violate the program, they come to my jail. This is the reason we are seeing our jail numbers jump recently.”
Thirty-nine inmates are in the jail as a result of this law, said Cox.
A long-term goal for the county is to build a new Community Corrections Center, said Cox. Space does not allow for room for classes or treatment for inmates, just housing. The County is looking to build a new Community Corrections Center.
“Land was donated by the Hospital here in Franklin to the county,” said Cox. “Unfortunately, Franklin’s Planning and Zoning board will not allow the facility to be built on that parcel of land, so we are back trying to find a spot for the new Community Corrections Center at a time where my jail population continues to grow with no relief in sight.”
Only time will tell how the chips will fall, but Cox is confident that they will eventually be able to acquire this new and improved center.