Sheriff’s reserves use own cars to cut response times


Fast responders: Reserve deputies (from left) Jeary Smith, Robert Huskisson, Jon Lawrence and Blake Wampler use their own vehicles when they're on duty. The arrangement - subject to the same rules as the sheriff's department's other take-home vehicles - allows the reserves to go on duty more quickly because they don't first have to go to the department to check out a car. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — When Fortville Officer Matt Fox was shot in the line of duty July 27, every officer on duty rushed to the scene in Lawrence, just outside Hancock County.

Fox underwent surgery and survived. Meanwhile, the shaken officers working that night depended on reserve officers to pick up the slack.

But no one was on the road faster than Hancock County Sheriff’s Reserve Deputy Jeary Smith, thanks to his being part of a core group of reserve officers who have their own police cars.

“I get a text, ‘Somebody’s been shot,’” said Smith, who has been a reserve officer for 23 years. “I called dispatch, … I said, ‘You’re gonna need help.’ Ten minutes later, I was out the drive.”

About a year ago, Smith, who heads the reserve division of 26 officers; and fellow reserve Jon Lawrence, brought an unusual idea to the sheriff’s department. They offered to outfit their personal vehicles as police cars in order to cut down on response time in an emergency.

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