By Nate Smith
Law enforcement officials from several states were at the Daviess County Security Center on Tuesday, but there was no major crime that needed solving.
Rather, sheriffs and jail administrators from four states came for a three-day jail seminar hosted by the department and the National Sheriff’s Association. The seminar, entitled “Proactively Defending Against Prisoner Litigation,” gives jail officials the latest in legal education.
This seminar is one of many that take place across the country by the National Sheriff’s Association that give local sheriffs and law enforcement officers the tools and knowledge they need in the field. According to James Chipp with the association, the idea to hold the seminar in Daviess County came from the Indiana Sheriff’s Association.
“In talking with sheriffs in the National Sheriff’s Association, this training gets moved throughout the country,” said Chipp. “In some discussions with the Indiana Sheriff’s Association’s director Steve Luce we discussed where to bring that out here and they told us about Sheriff Harbstreit. We connected with him and it has turned out very well.”
And with Daviess County’s newer facility, it seemed a natural place to train in the latest in court rulings that involve prisoners.
Carrie Hill, esq., one of the presenters during the seminar, said the seminar is an incredible way for officers and jail workers to keep informed.
“Sheriffs have a duty to run a constitutional jail,” Hill said. “This (seminar) is everything regarding the rights of offenders and understanding the parameters with which deputies and those in the facility operate.”
The nature of the legal system is fluid, with decisions made by federal judges including the Supreme Court. Hill said it is very important seminars like the one in Daviess County are held to keep officers informed of the changes.
“I applaud the sheriff for hosting this because in the past six months, we’ve had huge changes in corrections law,” Hill said. “Corrections law is very different from criminal law and there are big changes.
“You don’t have many sheriffs who can take three days just for legal issues. I want to commend that and applaud that.”
Hill, an attorney and criminal justice consultant, gave the seminar with Gary DeLand, the executive director of the Utah Sheriff’s Association. He said keeping the information going can be difficult.
“For one of the reasons we have these classes is no one can develop the legal expertise by themselves,” DeLand said.
Therefore, DeLand and the National Sheriff’s Association develop a set of legal-based jail standards that are updated annually and those who may not be able to attend the seminars can have the basic knowledge of running a jail properly.
While the jailers are learning valuable training to take back to their facilities, being in Daviess County is a great source of pride for Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit. Harbstreit had five of his employees in the seminar, and enjoyed the first day of the seminar. He joked he was a little nervous until the first session started.
“I’m very pleased with the turnout,” Harbstreit said. “I’ve been sitting in here listening to the seminars and the information is top notch.
“We have several sheriffs from Indiana. A lot of area sheriffs are here as well.”
One of the visitors to the jail was Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton. Heaton, also the president of the Indiana Sheriff’s Association, said the jail is very useful. When the jail opened after its renovation, Clay County sent prisoners to Daviess County due to overcrowding.
“I thank Sheriff Harbstreit for hosting it,” Heaton said of the seminar. “I think it is valuable information that we are receiving.”
The seminars continue through Thursday.