Sheriff Roy Leap says first three weeks in office about adjusting, listening


Three weeks into his first term as Sheriff of Switzerland County, Roy Leap has been busy adjusting to his new responsibilities and looking forward to continuing the implementation of new programs and policies in the sheriff’s office.

“I’ve been inundated with meetings,” the new sheriff said with a laugh. “We’re working through that and I’m trying to add those into my schedule. I’ve been attending commissioners meetings and council meetings, plus the meetings I had before I became sheriff – like with the division of family and children and the child protection team and things like that.”

Sheriff Leap says that the lack of free time has been his biggest adjustment to date, noting that during his 16 years as the county’s Chief Deputy he had specific responsibilities, but much of that work was in the background.

As sheriff, he’s out in front.

“As sheriff there’s a whole new set of fires to put out,” he said. “The sheriff is the one who people come to when they have a problem and they want to speak to someone. When they need help, they want to speak to the sheriff, and I’m more than happy to speak to anyone who has a question or a concern.”

Roy Leap said that his time as chief deputy did prepare him for his new duties, helping him to know the inner workings of the department. The chief deputy’s job is to make sure that all of the divisions within the sheriff’s office run smoothly and handles the logistics of running the office.

Now that he’s in charge, that knowledge is valuable.

Another element leading to a smooth transition is that the sheriff’s department staff has returned intact, although Sheriff Leap says that there has been some internal reconfiguring of responsibilities.

He also says that former sheriff Nathan Hughes, who is now the chief deputy, has been great about the transition and the new policies that Sheriff Leap is implementing.

“Nathan has been really great,” Roy Leap said. “He has helped with the changes that I’ve wanted to make and has been very positive about everything. He’s made this all very smooth.”

One of the first priorities that the new sheriff has been working on is the development of the sheriff’s office in Patriot. Roy Leap said that the sheriff’s department has had a satellite office in the town of Patriot for several years, but the office really hasn’t been functional for the deputies to use.

“We’ve had an office down there, but it hasn’t been very well stocked and been capable of having a deputy go in there and actually work out of that office.”

Sheriff Leap was at the Patriot office earlier this week working with the phone company to get the DSL connection finished so deputies working in that office will be able to connect to the department’s main frame computer.

“We’re going to try and get that office up and running,” the sheriff said. “Obviously we’re not going to be able to have a deputy sitting there for specific hours, but I want it to be as comfortable as possible for the deputies to work there while they are in that area of the county, which saves time from them having to drive back to Vevay to file paperwork or other work.”

And – if citizens see a cruiser at the Patriot office – the sheriff says that they should feel welcome to stop in with questions or concerns and comments.

Another program that Sheriff Leap has been working on is a new system of protocol with his dispatchers, instituting a more standardized system for emergency dispatching. Under the system, dispatchers will be able to give more consistent medical dispatching, not only to EMS personnel, but to the public as well.

“When the public calls in, our dispatchers should be able to provide the caller with care instructions prior to the emergency personnel getting there, and that could make quite a difference,” Sheriff Leap said. “We might be able to save a life through that. Our 911 Coordinator, Kevin Hayes, has been working on this and we’ve already started that process. It’s not going to be, ‘well, we’ll send an ambulance’. It’s special training that all of our dispatchers have already had. We will be able to help provide aid immediately.”

The sheriff also says that the public should see more deputies out of the road. He noted that one of the main things that he wanted to do was to get deputies back doing more patrolling on county roads.

“We want to get them back into those areas that may have been overlooked in the past simply because of the call volume,” Sheriff Leap said. “People need to understand that last year our deputies handled over 2,600 calls, and that’s a lot of calls. We want to continue to provide service to the entire county and still keep patrolling all of the county on a more regular basis.”

The Switzerland County Sheriff’s office currently has nine deputies and a chief deputy, with a criminal investigator and a drug investigator working specifically in those problem areas. The sheriff’s office also works cooperatively with the Vevay Police Department and the Indiana State Police. This allows for more investigation of criminal activities.

“When I first started in law enforcement, we were a ‘report taking’ agency. When something happened, we took a report and then filed it,” Sheriff Leap said. “Today, we have the chance to do more investigation of activities. That’s what we’re striving for.”

Along with handling a large number of calls, county deputies are also charged with court detail, transporting prisoners to and from court; along with doing legal paper service and the updating of the sex offender registry – all of which flows through the department.

The sheriff says that there haven’t been many surprises since he took office on January 1st; noting that everyone has dedicated themselves to working hard to make the department better.

“Usually whenever there’s an administration change, people are creatures of habit,” Roy Leap said. “Sometimes people aren’t willing to change what they’ve gotten used to doing, but that hasn’t happened in our office. Everyone has been great.”

Above all, the new sheriff wants the community to know that he’s always available and willing to listen to residents.

“If you have any questions, concerns or whatever, don’t hesitate to contact me,” Sheriff Leap said. “If I’m not in the office, please leave a message and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can. I want to hear problems. If we have problems in an area, I want to hear about those so we can reach some resolution. We’re trying to build communities of trust through the Indiana Sheriff’s Association , and that’s what we are doing here, we want to continue to build trust in the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department. “