Allen Co. Sheriff: new EV bike training ground is coming and will be the first in the world

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ALLEN CO., Ind. (WANE) – A new, one- of- its- kind electronic bike facility is under construction at the Allen County Sheriff’s facility, one of a few departmental projects begun this year, Sheriff David Gladieux said.

Gladieux sat down with WANE 15 last week, looking back at the year’s progress in upgrading facilities and technology. 2022 is his last of eight years on the job.

Besides the EV bike facility, constructed without the aid of state or federal grants or any new county money, Gladieux spoke of an upgrade to in-car computer technology, a new procedural manual reflecting the modern world and the transformation of the department’s rifle range into a shared facility with the Fort Wayne Police Department, offering close and long range rifle practice.

“We’ve had a very busy year, for sure,” Gladieux said, speaking at the department’s headquarters inside the Allen County Courthouse.

NEW EV BIKE FACILITY COMING

Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux in his departmental headquarters downtown.

The idea for a bike training facility, estimated to cost about $200,000, was developed after a local company, Recon Power Bikes, approached the sheriff’s department and provided a demonstration. The need for bike patrols will grow as the state’s trail system grows and connects with other counties and cities, Gladieux said.

“You pedal on your patrol,” Gladieux explained, “but if you have to get somewhere fast you can go into the electric mode and get there much quicker. It’s not just about speed, but the condition of the officer. By the time he or she gets there, if they have to pedal a great distance, they’re going to be worn out.

Gladieux said Allen County will be one of the first departments with EV bikes and currently, there is no certification for the training.

“We’ve already piqued interest from several states away, all of them asking when is this facility going to get done,” Gladieux said. “They’re excited about it. We’re excited about it.”

Upkeep will be paid through a moderate fee paying system, he added.

Jeff Fuze, president and owner of Recon Power Bikes on Ley Road, is the largest producer of the e-bikes for law enforcement in the U.S.. “There are miles and miles of trails (in Allen County) and nobody patrols them,” Fuze said.

The new training facility “will be the first e-bike law enforcement training facility in the world,” Fuze added.

UPGRADED RIFLE RANGE

The department is about 75% done with its upgrade at the rifle range, a joint project with the Fort Wayne Police Department.

Two years in the making, the new range will feature up-close shooting, shooting platforms and obstacles and more vantage points for officer training, including a “fake wall with windows and doors and a simulated roof peak,” Gladieux said.

Long range rifle training between 200 and 400 feet away isn’t as practical for law enforcement anymore, Gladieux said. FWPD chipped in about $150,000.

Water flow at the facility was improved, but construction was delayed because of the wet fall, Gladieux said. He expects to cover remaining costs with money from the Allen County Jail commissary.

IN-CAR CAMERA SYSTEMS

With Allen County the largest in the state at 670 square miles, patrol officers were challenged uploading photos and video to their in-car computers and then having to drive to three or four outposts to download the information.

The department recently purchased a new software system created by Cradlepoint, a Boise-Idaho based company that’s developed cloud-based wireless networking equipment providing an antenna and Wifi within 300 feet radius.

“They no longer have to travel a great distance to do their offloading. It’s all done as soon as they put it in their cameras. It saves us an awful lot of time,” Gladieux said.

The new system resembles the more efficient system for filling up patrol cars with fuel, Gladieux said, something he changed during his first administration.

“We went to a fleet car type system with local gas stations,” instead of three gas stations in the county, Gladieux said. “We don’t have any downtime, like when a car gets out of service and has to drive 25 miles to get gas.”

Sheriff’s deputies, sometimes called Allen County police, work inside the city as well, he added.

NEW PROCEDURE MANUAL

Procedures and policies were long overdue for an update, some of them dating back 35 years ago when Gladieux joined the department, he said.

The Fort Wayne riots in May 2020 made Gladieux and his command staff rethink departmental policies, he said.

Although he agreed with the outcome of the George Floyd trial, other officers are often charged unfairly, Gladieux said.

“You get sued because of your training,” Gladieux said. “Our policies and procedures needed to be enhanced and designed by a professional group.” Daigle Law Firm, based in Connecticut, was hired and has been working with the department over the last year and a half. So far costs have reached about $80,000 and have been paid out of the jail commissary fund.

“It’s not cheap, but well worth it,” Gladieux said. Equipment was also upgraded. Gladieux said the department’s tear gas used during the May 2020 protests dated to the 70s, but, surprisingly, still worked.

THE ALLEN COUNTY JAIL

Gladieux expects to see the jail torn down within the next five years. Although he doesn’t see the sense of making major upgrades to the building that sits downtown at the corner of Superior and Clinton streets,  on prime riverfront development property, he believes a $1.2 million renovation of the surveillance system is crucial to the building’s security.

“We have cameras that aren’t working and haven’t been working in a long time,” Gladieux said.  Because the infrastructure is so old, it’s not possible to replace cameras without replacing the system.

The project is about 50% completed, he added.

The department will also work to hire 10 additional confinement officers approved by the Allen County Council, the body governing county finances.

The number of confinement officers has been stagnant at 135 for a while and 10 more officers will get the department closer to its goal of 162,  making security better for inmates and jail personnel.

Gladieux doesn’t foresee any changes to the medical service provided by Quality Correctional Care, a Carmel-based for-profit company that provides medical staff and treatment. QCC handles this service for about 70 of the state’s 92 counties, he added.

The weekly jail food budget of $19,000 is provided by the county council feeding an average of 800 inmates daily, breaking the daily cost down to less than a dollar a day for each inmate’s meals.

With a nutritionist on staff, inmates are provided their daily caloric needs, Gladieux said.

The sheriff also lauded his staff for a system that prevented a break-out of COVID cases. Inmates were put into a two-week lock-up after being admitted to the jail, then moved to a quarantine block before being moved into the general population, he said.

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