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Hancock County News

Fortville growing and police chief says department needs to keep up

The way Bill Knauer sees it, it is basic supply and demand.  As the demand of new homes, businesses and residents to Fortville is met, the supply of new police officers needs to be there.

It is one reason why the veteran Fortville Police Chief has been adamant about needing more staff, bringing his message, again, directly to the Fortville Town Council.

Knauer recently informed the town council that a staffing allocation formula shows his department is behind the times and needs to grow. Currently, Fortville has eight full-time road officers and two administrative officers. The formula Knauer used, which comes from the Bartell Formula of Manpower Allocation, shows Fortville needs 15 full-time road officers.

Knauer told Giant FM the time has now come for more officers, and this is not the first time he has mentioned this.



Knauer told Giant FM that his department handled close to 8,000 calls, which was a 10 percent increase from the previous year, and the officers for the Fortville Police have been working 12 hour shifts and are on call 24 hours, seven days a week.

While the officers are needed, there remains one glaring question – how will they be paid for?
That is a question Knauer admits he doesn’t have an answer for.

Neither does the Fortville Town Council.

Fortville Town Council president Fritz Fentz said he has no idea whether the town can afford one officer or an increase to 15. Fentz said the first he heard of doubling the current staff was when Knauer mentioned the formula calls for 15 officers.

Councilwoman Libby Wyatt said when Knauer approached council he was looking for five additional officers.

Wyatt told Giant FM the police department is not the only entity needing relief from budget pains.
“Our township fire department, library and schools are all in need of more funding, too. I believe we will be able to work with Chief Knauer and find a solution that we all can be happy with,” she said.

A possible solution is music to Knauer’s ears as Fortville is adding new subdivisions and is currently exploring a Riverfront District, which would grant more liquor licenses to restaurants or bars looking to come to town.

Fentz, however, told Giant FM that the town is not placing the Riverfront District over public safety and cautions on the turnaround time for tax dollars to hit from the new developments.

Some of those questions may be answered during an upcoming financial workshop.

Fortville officials and the town’s CPA will be holding a financial workshop Feb. 22 at the Town of Fortville Municipal Building, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Fentz said residents and others will be able to ask questions during the event.