By Ryan Berry
GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners renewed its commitment to the Darke County Adult Probation Department and the Darke County Sheriff’s Department with the acceptance of the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (TCAP) funding. According to the commissioners, much of the $598,099 in funding is geared towards the probation department with some of the funds going to the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.
Darke County has been receiving this bi-annual grant since 2017. Commissioner Matt Aultman said, “This helps operate our probation department. It helps offer the men’s club and programs like that and some of the funds go back to the Sheriff’s Office.
TCAP funding limits how many individuals a judge can send to prison each year. Aultman admitted the contract was similar to the previous contracts they’ve agreed to. “I didn’t look at the exact number in the contract,” said Aultman. “F4 (Felony 4) and F5 (Felony 5) have to retain in the county. F2’s, 3’s and 1’s still eligible to go to state. It depends on how many times they recidivise on F4’s that pushes them up to the next category.”
The commissioners agreed TCAP funding continues to be beneficial for the county. “I’m going to speak for myself on this one and I will let the other two chime in. I think the amount of money that we are getting is not enough. It’s never enough for what we’re receiving as a community to deal with what we are dealing with. We’ve got a good probation crew up there that’s doing a lot with what they get. I’ve got to lay that back on Mr. (James) Mollette (Chief Probation Officer) and his whole staff. They are doing good things with the men’s club and they’re doing outreach and things like that. We have seen some real trend change in the group of guys that are down there, and ladies. Investing in the Extension Service and what they can provide has been able to pull in different pots of money to get us to where we need to go. With the local government it’s never enough money. It’s always more of a burden on the local populace than it is the state.”
Commissioner Marshall Combs added, “I’ve experienced working in the prison and the jail system, actually. It’s very overcrowded for the size of facilities we have. It’s not as simple as saying let’s send everybody to a state prison. There’s simply not room. I think the funds try to help counteract that and combat that locally because the answer is not being able to send people to facilities all of the time.”
Commissioner Holmes explained his support for the funding, “The judicial system and the law enforcement are supportive of this, and I will continue to support it as long as they see the value of it.”
When the commission purchased the former Chillz ice cream shop property on South Broadway, the previous judge’s intent was to have probation share the building with visiting attorneys and judges and the Law Library. According to the commissioners it has experienced a change of use. It does house the Law Library and is used by visiting attorneys and judges, but Aultman said, “The change of use has changed with the judge (Judge Travis Fliehman). He’s changed some of the operations of that building.” The probation department is not using that building.
The Darke County Sheriff’s Office is hoping they will receive a grant that will assist in keeping deputies safe while they are on the road. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant would secure funding for upfitting and operation of vehicle locating equipment. Aultman said, “We’ve been going after different grants to upgrade our Sheriff’s Office operations.” If the department receives this grant, they would be able to install wireless equipment, including modems inside each vehicle. The system also has a tracking feature.
The initial cost to install modems, antennas, cables, software and provide maintenance for 35 vehicles is approximately $116,574.39. The cost for Verizon Cellular Service is $16,795.80 for a total of $133,370.19 in the first year. The grant would pay 75 percent of that cost and Darke County’s match would be $33,342.55. The grant would continue to pay 75 percent in the second year with Darke County’s match for the cellular service, software and modem maintenance being almost $6,000. The third year would be a 50-50 match and in the final year of the grant, the county would pay 75 percent of the cost. After the fourth year, the county would pay the entire cost for the service.
The commissioners unanimously agreed to the letter of support to allow the Sheriff’s Office to apply for the grant.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].