NEW PALESTINE — It’s been several months since Bob Ehle, the New Palestine town marshal, had a full police force to work with. The department took another step toward better protecting the community with the recent swearing in of Philip Boor as the town’s newest officer.
Boor won’t be the only new hire as the department expands to seven full-time officers with another hire coming.
The growth at the police department comes as the demand for services increases in the growing town.
The force had been down an officer after the deputy town marshal, Greg Evans, stepped down in December. Evans, who had been with the department since 2007, had missed several months of work for medical reasons before officially resigning.
Boor, who will have to go through several months of local and state training, has a degree from Anderson University. He’s also a fitness trainer and a member of the Indiana Army National Guard, where he is trained as a combat medic
Boor was officially sworn in on Jan. 5 during the town council’s monthly meeting.
“I shall do my utmost to be a credit to the community,” Boor said during the ceremony.
Boor is currently going through a 40-hour basic law enforcement course. He’ll then go to road school, working with each officer on the department. In May, he’ll head to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.
Ehle, who has been with the town since 2001, is supposed to be the administrator of the police department, overseeing scheduling, training, the budget and community outreach. But because the department has been short-staffed, he has often gone on patrol as well.
Ehle plans to continue some patrol work until Boor is fully trained. Ehle will then hire one more officer within the next month to bring the force up to seven, the largest it’s ever been.
That officer is expected to start at the end of the month and has already gone through state training.
“It’s going to be tough to replace all of that experience that Evans had, but we’ve got some eager, young officers coming in now, and it’s going to be good,” Ehle said.
With Evans stepping down Ehle moved the next officer with the most seniority, Sgt. Jessy Walley, into second in command. Walley has been with the department since 2015 and has been a steady presence on the force, Ehle said. They’ve also taken officer Wade Whitaker, who was hired as a school resource officer for New Palestine High School in 2019, and made him a full time officer for the department to focus more on town coverage.
Whitaker is still overseeing the resource officer’s position at NPHS. The town’s other officers and deputies from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department also fill in as resource officers.
“There is no lax in coverage there, just different coverage,” Ehle said.
Ehle would like to see his force grow to at least nine officers within the next year or two and feels it will out of necessity.
“Our current council does understand the need,” Ehle said. “It’s always just a matter of money and when that comes in because we are seeing lots of growth, but it takes years for those taxes to filter back in.”
Bill Niemier, council president, noted the importance of having a police department large enough to cover the rapidly growing area.
“Growth in the police department needs to follow growth in the town,” Niemier said. “We’ll add the next officer here in few weeks and hope that is sufficient for a while, but we’ll just have to see.”