In the primary election on Tuesday, May 4, incumbent David Lain and Chip
Yanta will vie for the Democratic nomination for Porter County Sheriff. The
Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate
The Tribune set word limits for each question and reserve the right
to edit for length.
(1) Age, place of residence.
Lain: 56, Valparaiso.
Yanta: 64, Morgan Township.
(2) To Lain: Why are you seeking re-election to the office of Porter County
Sheriff? (100 words) I believe that I can still lead the Porter County
Sheriff’s Department in the positive direction begun in 1999 when I joined
the administration as Chief. During the eight years in that position and
since my election as Sheriff in 2006, we have focused on providing the
necessary expertise to ensure the most effective and efficient service
I want to continue to tailor the Sheriff’s Department to be responsive to
the changing needs of the county.
To Yanta: Why are you seeking election to the office of Porter County
Sheriff? (100 words) I am seeking the office of Porter County Sheriff
because I am not happy with the current administration and what is not being
done to combat the drug overdose deaths that are plaguing our community.
Porter County is currently 10th in the nation, per capita, for drug overdose
deaths. One death is too many but last year alone there was 28. Programs
need to be implemented for our youth as well as parents to inform them of
the drug problem and how to combat it. There is also a current rash of
suicides and this problem needs to be addressed.
(3) To Lain: What are your accomplishments in office and why should the
voters re-elect you to it? (150 words) We have trained officers in SWAT,
accident reconstruction, CIT (recognizing and dealing with the mentally
ill), school resource officers, drug interdiction, and other specialties
that target problem areas that most effect residents. I am extremely proud
to have started Triad and Project Lifesaver to help improve the lives of
seniors. I was able to add police officers to the force for the first time
in 10 years—without adding to the General Fund budget. We added an
additional officer to the Porter County Drug Unit, and have taken a
leadership role there. We began a specially assigned unit of officers that
respond to critical issues, whether it is traffic enforcement, drug
interdiction or other crime. We also partnered with every school
superintendent and put on a public seminar based on their topic
To Yanta: What are your qualifications for the office and why should the
voters unseat the incumbent for you? (150 words) I worked at the
Sheriff’s Department for 27 years: as a jailer, patrol, three years as an
undercover narcotics officer, Detective Bureau for 20 years, senior
instructor and finally commander of the Law Enforcement Academy, located at
the time at IUN Gary Northwest Campus. I have attended approximately 47
various schools and seminars. I also have an extensive military background
and retired from the USAR as a first sergeant. I have worked for six former
sheriffs and if I take something good from each administration this will
make mine even stronger. As a first sergeant in the military I have
administrative knowledge that far exceeds any local government’s
administration. My military background also gives me the leadership
qualifications necessary to “lead by example.” I am the only candidate that
has been in the military and a USMC Vietnam Veteran. I am the only candidate
that has been a Union Member.
(4) What in your view are the two most urgent issues in this campaign?
Lain: Maintaining the downward trend in the crime rate is significant to
every family living in Porter County. The problem of substance abuse is the
most pervasive problem in the nation, not just Porter County. We will
continue our leading role in two drug task forces, and are working with
federal agencies to expand our resources in that arena.
Yanta: The drug overdose/suicide deaths and making the citizens of
Porter County aware of this problem should be a priority. Why hasn’t the
current administration done anything positive to combat this problem? Why is
Porter County 10th in the Nation, per capita, for these deaths? The
incumbent has had three years as sheriff and eight years as the second in
command of the department under the former sheriff to do something positive
about this problem. Yet the problem continues to exist and we have lost 28
last year. I can only hope that the citizens of Porter County take this into
consideration when they go to the polls to vote on May 4.
(5) To Lain: Which of your policies have been unsuccessful and why? which
successful? (150 words) I have been frustrated in the lack of
participation when we reach out to young people and their parents on topics
such as Internet predators. Although we have hosted several seminars on that
and other topics germane to students, we can never seem to fill a room with
interested adults. We shall however continue to take the message to anyone
willing to hear it. Although we pride ourselves on being very open and
interactive with our residents, we have not lost sight of a major function
of a police department: that is, fighting crime. To that end, we encourage
aggressive patrol and reasoned enforcement. Our arrests increased 24 percent
To Yanta: Which of Sheriff’s Lain’s policies would you change and why? which
would you maintain? (150 words) I would change the way the Patrol
Division is run. I also feel that there is a lot of rank on the department
not being used to the fullest extent of their capabilities. There are a
number of captains, lieutenants, and other ranking officers doing more
administrative responsibilities than helping out with patrol. Each crew
should have a lieutenant and a captain assigned to a crew, which would
increase the manpower needed to run calls and assist with any situation that
may arise. There needs to be more “task force” operations. By having these
task forces they will free up patrol to run normal calls while they are
targeting known areas that are being hit with criminal activity. Maintaining
existing programs: I would have to take a close look at what has been
implemented, if anything, then either keep it or more than likely revise it
to meet my standards.
(6) What is your strategy for attacking the drug problem in Porter County?
Lain: We have increased our involvement in the Drug Unit and continue to
assign an officer to a federal task force. We added drug interdiction
patrols and are working with an additional federal agency to expand its
operation into Porter County for the first time ever. We have increased the
role of the chemical addictions class offered to jail inmates, and are
reaching young people through highly visible means such as the anti-drug
1967 Impala seen in parades. That program also incorporates high school
students AND an essay contest offered to every 4th and 5th grade student in
Yanta: Update and upgrade the Drug Unit by implementing drug
interdiction techniques and tactics, including: better patrol and task force
techniques; “lights on program”; better use of informants and information;
better interviewing techniques and utilizing the information from the
300-400 already incarcerated inmates; going to the schools and putting on
drug awareness programs; talking with parents at PTA meetings; starting a
Police Cadet Program for our youth. If they want to belong to a gang then
join mine! The program will teach them about police work, but will also
teach them honor, loyalty, integrity and respect.
(7) Besides the abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs, what in your view
are the two greatest threats to the security and well-being of Porter County
residents and what specific actions would you take to reduce those threats?
Lain: We are constantly vigilant for signs of gang activity. We have
specially trained officers who work with other police departments to share
intelligence and plan responses when the threat appears. We are currently
working with other police administrations to form a multi-agency unit to
keep ahead of the problem. People want to feel safe in their homes above
all. We have always focused on working with neighborhood groups to help them
keep a safe environment, but we are also creating initiatives that will
empower neighborhood networking. We are giving citizens the ability to
directly interact with the Sheriff’s Department through electronic texting,
e-mails and Internet crime mapping with a program called Citizen Observer.
In addition, an entirely new neighborhood watch paradigm titled “Look Out
For Each Other” will connect residents not only with law enforcement, but
with each other as well.
Yanta: The greatest threat is the fact that nothing has been done
correctly to combat the problem. It appears to me that the public has been
kept in the dark. Further, no programs have been implemented to correct the
problems. Now we are also facing an epidemic of suicides. My programs of
educating the youth and their parents are a positive solution to help make
everyone involved aware of the dangers of drugs and suicide. Starting
programs for the youth such as the Cadet Program will enable the younger
generation to get involved, know that someone cares about them, give them
direction, give them a desire to belong to something that is good and in the
end make them a better person. Giving them the ability to care and hope will
ultimately make them consider another avenue for life.