Two Dubois County Sheriff’s Department veterans are vying for the top position in the department in the election this year.
Tim Lampert and Tom Kleinhelter have both been members of the department for more than 20 years. Lampert is currently serving as the department’s chief deputy, the number two spot, while Kleinhelter is the detective sergeant, the number three position.
Kleinhelter joined the department in 1994 as a jailer and has moved up through each position in the department since then. He has served as the detective sergeant for seven years and said that he sees himself as a well-experienced and highly qualified candidate for Dubois County Sheriff.
“There has never been a chance for advancement within our department that I have not applied for and achieved,” Kleinhelter said. “I believe now more than ever our department needs strong leadership and someone with the ability to manage people.”
Lampert joined the department in 1990 as a jailer and also moved up through the ranks before being appointed the chief deputy in 2011. Lampert views his candidacy as a way to continue helping the people in the community by doing the job he loves.
“I have spent the past 28 years doing a job that I love,” Lampert said. “I have been able to train hundreds of officers both locally and at the law enforcement academy. I have been able to talk with kids about drugs, bullying, and school safety. I get to do a job I love every day. As sheriff, I can continue helping people in a higher capacity.”
While Kleinhelter and Lampert both agree that substance abuse and addiction are major factors for crime in Dubois County, they vary in some ways to address the situation. The prevalence of these issues, as well as the accompanying mental illness, has led to jail overcrowding and stress on county employees in the department.
Kleinhelter noted the lack of help outside the jail for individuals seeking support.
“I would love to see a center for a released inmate that truly wants to be sober,” Kleinhelter said. “Somewhere they can stay and continue to get the treatment programs until sobriety becomes more of a way of life for them rather than putting them back into the same environment that caused them to become an inmate in the first place.”
Lampert leaned on the current dive into fixing the overcrowding issues at the jail. Through the efforts of the jail study committee, a new jail solution is being researched that would have the ability to provide services within its walls.
“I feel evidence-based programs in the jail can help reduce recidivism. Let’s provide programs to help them change their thinking resulting in them changing their actions,” Lampert said adding. “The (current) jail is not physically set up to provide these services effectively and safely. There needs to be a separate pod for substance abuse inmates that are interested in treatment and programming. They are eventually going to get back out and be in our community. Let’s make better people, not better criminals.”
Other counties have already added these services to their jails and are seeing positive results from them.
“Dearborn County currently has a treatment pod that is effective at reducing recidivism,” Lampert said. “I think we need to research how Dubois County can implement this type of programming, especially if a new jail is built.”
Both men want to increase support for the officers and jailers in the department and that by doing so, the increased morale will lead to better community policing and subsequently, have an impact on decreasing crime.
“I also feel that providing training for officers to make sure they can continue to protect and serve the residents of Dubois County in the best way possible is important,” Lampert said. “We see and hear a lot of things that a normal person does not. We have to take care of each other and ourselves. I feel that we need to be competitive in pay so that we can keep our well trained, knowledgeable officers. We operate 24/7 and need to have the staff to do so safely. When someone is sick or on vacation, manpower can become an issue.”
Kleinhelter added that he wants to strengthen the chain-of-command within the department and provide officers the ability to be more independent in their work.
“We must have a chain-of-command and it has to be utilized. The department needs structure,” Kleinhelter said. “Let everyone do their jobs without being micromanaged. All of the officers must know that the sheriff is for them and not against them; they have to be able to make split-second decisions without fear.”
He added that the department must be seen by the community.
“All of our communities must feel that their sheriff’s department is doing its absolute best to keep the communities safe,” Kleinhelter said. “Patrolling and being present at community events are just a couple of ways to accomplish that.”
Both men are involved with youth through sporting activities as well as different events and community groups. They believe in empowering youth and teaching them skills to succeed in life.
Both men love being in law enforcement.
Kleinhelter said he wanted to be a police officer at a very young age.
“I believe it’s a calling. Every day is different,” he said adding that as he has gone around meeting with people on his campaign, he has noted that his actions over the past 24 years have had an impact. “Sometimes when you have the opportunity to speak to someone in what you think is just a routine call, the things you do and say could last a lifetime for them. It is truly the most noble profession in the world. I could not be happier that I have been able to do this for a living and have been able to make a career out of it.”
Lampert said he got involved in law enforcement to help people.
“As sheriff, I can continue helping people in a higher capacity. I can implement programs that been proven to work,” Lampert said. “I feel I have the knowledge and drive to help guide the sheriff’s department and jail staff to continue on the positive path that it has been on.”
More information on the candidates can be found here.