Sheriff's candidate visits board

Mindy Carls

“Are you happy with the product you’re getting?” was the question Joe Bedford asked Orion village board members on Monday, June 15.

He is a candidate for Henry County sheriff in the Republican primary next February.

Orion spends a lot of money to have the sheriff’s department cover the village, Bedford said.

“You pay a lot of money for this, and we don’t want to give you a shoddy product,” he said.

If trustees are not happy with the contract, the candidate said he is willing to rewrite it every year, or every three months, until they are happy.

“It has to be suited for the needs of the community that’s paying for it,” Bedford said.

Trustee Robert “Deano” O’Leary, former chairman of the police committee, said residents need to see the sheriff in Orion more often.

Another trustee, Jamie Lawson, said that during the five years he has been on the board, Sheriff

Gib Cady has never been to a meeting.

Two-way communication has to happen, Bedford said.

Trustee Mel Drucker asked Bedford, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, why Orion has trouble getting part-time help.

“Is it how we recruit, or what we pay?” Drucker asked. 

Bedford said Orion’s pay is comparable to what other communities offer.

The sheriff’s department pays for the training part-time deputies receive, and Bedford said if he is elected, he will make sure part-time deputies work.

Drucker also mentioned the seemingly constant changes in who works second and third shifts in Orion.

“I understand you want stability in shifts,” Bedford said. “This is not a proving ground to train people.”

Orion should have a say in who is assigned to the village, Lawson said.

“We’ve always been told, ‘This guy’s gone and you’re getting this guy,’” he said.

“You should be able to interview prospective deputies,” Bedford said. “We have some the best-trained deputies. These guys are professionals. Once they get motivated, you should see them work.”

The chairman of the police committee, Trustee Dale “Sarge” Stiles said the first-shift officer, Joe Femali, listens to people and works things out, but some of the deputies who fill in for him are heavy-handed.

Rapport between officers and residents is important, Bedford said. Femali has been showing senior citizens how to avoid property crimes, and the sheriff’s office needs to do more to train residents.

In other business:

• As chairman of the police committee, Stiles announced that police will be looking for drivers turning across the double yellow lines on Fourth Street.

“If you get a ticket, you get a ticket,” he said.

Stiles said people are trying to back out of a space while someone else is turning across the double lines.

• Lawson suggested that during ball games, an officer should walk through Love Park and remind children that bicycles and skateboards are banned from the park.

• A basketball goal has been repaired at Central Park, and a merry-go-round will be fixed, Trustee Roger Peterson said. The village is taking estimates for repairs of the Love Park shelter, and Orion Lions Club is buying paint for the project.

• A new pump will be installed at the sewer plant, O’Leary said.

• A six-year project to erect new street signs all through the village has been completed, O’Leary noted.