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Experienced detective to lead investigations division

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GREENFIELD — A veteran detective is returning to the investigations unit at the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and will oversee the division starting Jan. 1.

Jeff Rasche, who started working at the department as a dispatcher in 1984 and became a merit deputy in 1988, has worked several lengthy stretches in the investigations unit, but this will be the first time overseeing the group of three detectives.

Rasche, who will be promoted from lieutenant to captain, was a natural choice for the position after former investigations division commander Capt. Kevin Haggard announced he was planning to retire in October, Sheriff Mike Shepherd said.

Currently the third-shift supervisor, Rasche, 46, brings to the position a combination of investigative know-how and leadership skill, Shepherd said.

“I think it’s important, leadership-wise, to have someone that’s got the experience,” Shepherd said. “It made a lot of sense to put him in there.”

Rasche last worked as a detective in 2009 under Shepherd’s predecessor, Bud Gray, and was replaced by Trent Smoll, who is still a detective, when Rasche returned to road duty. He also worked as a detective from 1990-1996 and 2000-2005 under former sheriffs Jim Bradbury and Nick Gulling.

Rasche will oversee Smoll, as well as detectives Tim Cicenas and Ted Munden.

The transition won’t be effective until January, as manpower is still short on the road, Shepherd said. Rasche continues to manage third shift but has also been putting in hours in the detective unit as needed.

“I’m kind of wearing two hats right now,” Rasche said.

Two new deputies, Jake Lewis and David Wood, began work Monday, and when they are released to work the road, Rasche can make the transition to his new job.

Sgt. Bridget Foy will be promoted to lieutenant to oversee third shift in Rasche’s place, Shepherd announced Monday.

Rasche has been on patrol for three years and said he’ll miss the shift of officers he’s been working with since being promoted to lieutenant.

In July, Rasche was the first officer on the scene when Fortville Officer Matt Fox was shot during a traffic stop. Fox survived, and Rasche said the experience showed him just how well area officers can work together in times of crisis.

While he’ll miss the day-to-day work with the officers on his shift, Rasche looks forward to coming back to investigations, where he estimates he has spent more than two-thirds of his career.

One of Rasche’s most notable cases is the 2004 murder of Brett Dobbins. Rasche played a key role in the investigation that led to the arrest of Linda Shimer, who hired a hit man to kill Dobbins, her best friend’s husband. Shimer was ultimately sentenced to 55 years in prison for masterminding the plot.

While Rasche has come and gone from the detective unit a number of times over the course of his career, he said this move will probably be his last.

“It’s my home, and I think I’ll probably stay … as long as they’ll keep me, until it’s time to retire,” he said.

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