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 Council Appoints Baker Interim Chief

July 25, 2007 - The Knightstown Town Council voted last week to appoint part-time officer Danny Baker as Knightstown's interim chief of police while it seeks a permanent replacement for Earl Patterson, who resigned in early July.

While he had only been employed with the Knightstown Police Department as a part-time officer since February, Baker, 56, is no stranger to the KPD. He told The Banner on Tuesday that he had served as a full-time patrol officer with the department from July 1982 through January 1989, and, before rejoining the KPD this past February, had spent a couple of years as a reserve officer. He retired from Ford, where he was a machinist, in January.

Of the full-time officers currently on the KPD roster, Baker is the only one who has completed training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. He told The Banner he went through the ILEA's program in early 1983.

As for Baker's compensation while serving as the town's interim chief of police, the council voted to pay him an hourly wage equivalent to the $38,000 annual salary Patterson was earning when he left.

Knightstown Clerk treasurer Judy Haines told The Banner on Tuesday that this worked out to be $18.27 an hour, but said Baker would earn one-and-a-half times this amount for any overtime he works. Citing an imbalance in the committee assignments of council members, Council President David Glenn appointed Valerie Trump and Cort Swincher at last week's meeting to replace Council Vice President Nate Hamilton and council member Steve Nelson on the council's police committee. Trump said she and Swincher plan to review all applications submitted for chief of police or a full-time officer position within the past year and contact these people to see if they are still interested.

Several people who attended last week's meeting told the council they thought Baker should be made the town's next chief of police. John Goble, a former member of the town council, said he thought Baker, because of his law enforcement background and ties to the community, would be a good candidate for replacing Patterson. Similar comments were made by others, and the council's Glenn said he would also like to see Baker in the KPD's top spot.

As they prepare looking for a new chief, Trump suggested the council consider having an independent evaluator from the Henry County Sheriff's Department, plus another neutral party, oversee the police committee's process. She suggested Eric Cox, The Banner's owner and publisher, serve as the neutral party. Noting Cox doesn't live in Knightstown, town resident Jay Stearns said he thought a citizen of the town should also be involved. Trump and Swincher said they had no problem with that, and town resident Danny Webber volunteered. Although the council approved having Trump, Swincher, Cox and Webber serve on the screening committee that will go through the applications on file at the KPD, Cox, who was not at last week's meeting, has since declined to participate.

"I appreciate the invitation to take part in this process," Cox said this week. "However, as the owner and publisher of the town's only newspaper, I really don't think it would be appropriate for me to be involved that way. I'm certainly glad the council is willing to have some oversight from members of the community, but I and The Banner really have no choice but to monitor this and similar issues at arm's length."

The council has scheduled an executive session for 6 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to receive information about and interview prospective employees. At a special public meeting immediately following the executive session, the council could make a possible hiring decision and is expected to discuss town policies regarding the hiring process for openings at the KPD.

 

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