Sheriff Randy Retter renewed his request to purchase a tactical vehicle during the May 24 workshop with Wayne County Council and commissioners.

Retter last year applied for a grant that would have funded purchase of an armored vehicle; however, he did not receive the grant. He returned May 24 with a new proposal to purchase a BearCat MedEvac unit from Lenco for $326,614. Retter described the versatile vehicle as an armored ambulance.

Retter said he could provide $150,000 from unused salaries because of open positions and another $150,000 from his commissary fund. He plans to solicit donations from community or law enforcement partners to defray the costs; however, he requested council provide support for the project before seeking those donations.

“I do this because I’m so passionate about getting this critical piece of equipment that I feel is absolutely necessary to provide safety not only for the citizens of our county, but for the officers that serve them every day,” Retter said.

Council did not provide that support, instead indicating more consideration was necessary after hearing Retter’s presentation. Some council members thought the request should be part of the 2024 budgeting process because it’s not an emergency.

Retter, however, reiterated that he’s trying to spend funds available in his 2023 budget and the county should take advantage of the money available because his department is currently understaffed.

“All I’m doing is asking you to spend it on a necessary piece of equipment to protect my officers and to protect the citizens of this county,” Retter said.

The presentation included local examples of when such a vehicle could be used, including a search-and-rescue operation and barricaded subjects, such as a situation earlier this month on Rich Road. In that instance, and in others, vehicles from other departments, such as the Indiana State Police and Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, were requested and brought to Wayne County.

Retter said relying on other departments’ vehicles involves hourslong waits and the possibility a vehicle is already committed to another situation and unavailable. The show of force involving an armored vehicle sometimes leads to peaceful surrenders, Retter said, and the vehicle provides safe ingress and egress for officers and medical personnel.

Council member Barry Ritter urged the council to strongly consider Retter’s request. He said Retter had done as he’s been asked by presenting a plan and identifying funding sources.

“I personally think this is reasonable,” Ritter said. “Unless you’ve laid on the ground being shot at like some of us in this room have, you don’t understand the ask.”

Chambers remodel

Commissioners conducted their May 17 morning meeting and workshop also occurred in the renovated chambers inside the Wayne County Administration building.

The work updated the carpet, wall coverings, eliminated a half-wall, covered cement wall and accent pieces, improved the audio system, installed cameras accessible to WCTV and updated lighting. New furniture was also purchased.

The room now has flexibility to meet in the formal front or around tables in the back, and tables and chairs can be arranged to fit a variety of meeting or event needs. A closet on the room’s south side stores the tables and chairs.

Total cost was $197,431, including $40,569 for technology upgrades and $31,362 for the furniture.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 24 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.