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Oeth named Sheriff of the Year

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By Rachel Christian

Posey County Sheriff Greg Oeth was selected as Indiana Sheriff of the Year last week by the Indiana Sheriff’s Association.

Oeth, who became Posey County’s sheriff six years ago, credited his staff and deputies for their work over the last year.

“I couldn’t have accepted that award without acknowledging the staff, deputies and many others who made this department really stand out,” he said.

Each year, the ISA looks at the accomplishments and community impact of all 92 sheriffs in the state.

Oeth attributes the award to several projects the sheriff’s department has been involved in recently, including the new jail expansion project. In 2016, Oeth and others at the jail worked alongside county commissioners to implement a safety tax to fund the expansion project. The move was in response to a legislative change that keeps more non-violent offenders in their home jails instead of sending them off to the state facility.

Posey County was among the first in the state to implement a jail expansion program that officials from other counties have since visited and toured. The new jail will also include better resources and programs for inmates with mental health issues, and provide an additional possible revenue source by housing inmates from counties with insufficient jail space.

The idea, Oeth said, is to expand and improve the jail in ways that lead to fewer repeat offenders.

“Not everyone who comes through those doors is a success story,” he said. “But we do have success stories, and that is the goal. To help people so that they don’t go back out and do the same thing as soon as they get released.”

Oeth and his department have also worked several high profile cases in recent years, including the Rick House case and large annual drug busts. Oeth said these efforts to keep the community safe in turn increase the inmate populations at the jail.

“It is all interconnected,” he said. “It’s a two-step approach to the local criminal justice system.”

Oeth received his award at the annual ISA summer committee meeting in Muncie, and was notified by letter a week prior to the event informing him that he had been selected as sheriff of the year. Sheriff David Wedding of Vanderburgh County was also honored at the summer committee meeting when he was named vice president of the organization.

Oeth said he was happy to receive the award, and sees it as an indication of good things to come.

“My deputies and everyone at the jail have been working hard these last few years, and this is an indication that the hard work is paying off,” Oeth said. “We’re going to continue doing these things, things to help improve Posey County and the criminal justice system.”