Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Yanta and Lain vie for Democratic nomination for county sheriff

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By KEVIN NEVERS

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 questionnaires.

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 anywhere.

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 recommendations.

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? (150 words)

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 in 2009.

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? (100 words)

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 the county.

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? (150 words)

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.

 

Posted 4/14/2010

 

 

 

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