News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 5, 2010

Greg Ewing running for Vigo sheriff

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The deputy chief of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department has announced his intention to campaign for the office of Vigo County Sheriff.

Greg Ewing, a 19-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, has officially been working on his campaign since last fall. But it has been his goal to be sheriff since he first joined the department as a merit deputy in the early 1990s.

“I’ve been involved in this job now for 19 years, and it’s a very rewarding job,” Ewing said Friday while talking about his candidacy. “There’s not a day that I don’t look forward to coming to work and serving the people of Vigo County.

Top among his concerns are jail overcrowding, growing methamphetamine abuse and manufacturing problems, inmate medical costs, crime and residential break-ins, and animal control.

“One of the big keys to jail overcrowding issues is working closely with the rest of the county justice system to get the accused people through the system in a timely fashion, and not allow delays in their cases, which keeps them in jail longer and takes up bed space,” Ewing said.

One inmate spent close to four years in the jail before his trial, conviction and sentence into the state prison system. That kind of backlog creates a facility problem that cannot be fixed soon.

With the current financial restrictions on county government, he noted, there is no likelihood that the county jail will be expanded or a new facility built. The current jail was renovated in 2001, and a construction bond will not be paid off until 2015 for that project. So the county must still pay that loan, while working with less property tax money, he said.

Meth addiction and manufacturing, as well as drug abuse in general, is an obvious problem from a law enforcement perspective. Ewing said he supports closer monitoring of the purchase of meth ingredients.

As to inmate medical costs, Ewing said in the rare instances when an inmate has private medical insurance, that insurance should be billed rather than the county pay for the costs. At book-in time, he said, inmates with insurance should turn in that information.

“If it recovers $10,000 in insurance, that’s $10,000 less that we have to pay,” Ewing said. “Why should we pay for it if they have insurance.”

He also supports a network of neighborhood watch groups to increase protection of personal property throughout the county. When people get to know their neighbors, he said, they can share the responsibility of watching out for strange activity or vehicles that look out of place, report those things to authorities, and hopefully cut down on crime in their own backyard.

Such watch groups go along with the CrimeStoppers program that Ewing has overseen for many years. He has been coordinator of Wabash Valley CrimeStoppers for eight years, and has seen tips submitted to that program turn into valuable leads that led to the arrest of criminals and solving of crimes.

“All it takes is for one person to turn in a tip to solve a crime,” he said. “The more eyes and ears you have out there the better, because obviously, the police cannot do it all.”

Ewing has served as deputy chief of operations for the past seven years under current Sheriff Jon Marvel, who will be retiring at the end of his second term this year.

In that capacity, Ewing said he has received a lot of administrative experience with staff, budgets and the tools needed for law enforcement.

“I have been in the trenches on the administrative side, and I see all the things that need to be handled day to day,” he said.

The department includes 21 road deputies who patrol the county on three daily shifts. A reserve department supports those officers by filling in on vacations and holidays, and those volunteer officers also train regularly.

“We literally could not survive without them,” Ewing said of the reserve deputies. Last year, for instance, the hours put in by the reserve officers amounted to more than four full-time deputies that the county did not have to hire. The only expense to taxpayers was for the vehicles and gas used for patrols by the reserves.

Ewing, who was honored as the department’s Deputy of the Year in 2001 and has received the Meritorious Service Award, said he also plans to improve compliance with the sex offender registry. Too often, he said, offenders will come in to report their current address, as required by law, but when an officer does a follow-up check later, that person no longer lives at the listed address. Some solution needs to be found to keep better tabs on sex offenders, he said, and that solution may be electronic monitoring.

Since joining the sheriff’s department as a jailer in 1991, Ewing has served as a merit deputy, security/liaison officer for the Vigo County school system, and has been instrumental in computerizing the department’s records management. He also oversaw implementation of in-car computers, electronic crash reporting, electronic citations and warnings and the automated fingerprint identification system.

He also saw the merge of the county and city police dispatching centers into one 911 command center located at the sheriff’s department. That system handles the emergency radio traffic of local and county police agencies, as well as 14 township fire departments.

Ewing is a 1984 graduate of South Vigo High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Indiana State University. His wife, Kelly, is a registered nurse, and they have two children, Abby, 6, and Matthew, 2. He is a member of Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

He is also active in the community, serving as president of the Breakfast Optimist Club, and as a board member and member of the Honey Creek Township Fire Department, county fair board, extension board, local coordinating council, 911 advisory board, emergency management advisory board, agencies of emergency response board, and information technology advisory board. He is also  a member of the ISU Alumni Association, Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity alumni association and was a volunteer firefighter for Honey Creek Fire Department for seven years.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.