When he was elected Allen County sheriff in 2014, Republican David Gladieux had been with the department for 28 years, working in the patrol, dispatch, detective and K-9 divisions, doing SWAT duty, overseeing jail operations and serving as chief deputy.
In the four years since, Gladieux has put that experience to good use as he's dealt with a crisis in jail overcrowding.
The problem stems from the legislature's decision to send nonviolent felons back to county jails, and the solution includes providing appropriate resources and facilities for struggling with substance-abuse and mental health issues. But Gladieux has kept his focus on solutions instead of excuses, accommodating extra inmates and working with the courts and other city and county officials to find long-term answers.
In an era when the stereotypical tough-talking sheriff is back in fashion in some quarters, Gladieux is open with the media and has shown a refreshing sensitivity to minority and immigrant issues. An advocate for comprehensive immigration solutions, he appeared at a social-justice town hall a few weeks after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had come to Fort Wayne to tout his policy of separating children and parents at the border. “I don't believe in scare tactics,” Gladieux told the group.
As The Journal Gazette's Jamie Duffy reported last week, Gladieux lists a number of accomplishments during his first term, including opening a dental office in the jail and privatizing medical services to reduce costs and doubling the number of school resource officers. Gladieux's plans for a second term include opening a new work-release center that could help solve the jail-overcrowding problem.
His Democratic challenger, Philip R. Davis, is a real estate broker and appraiser whose campaign slogan is “Scrutiny after 80 Years” – Republicans have run the sheriff's department since the 1930s.
A CPA who has an MBA in finance and earned a law degree from Indiana Tech in 2016, Davis has no law-enforcement experience, but contends that the issues the sheriff must grapple with are largely legal problems and administrative concerns. If elected, Davis said, he would only serve one term and concentrate on a comprehensive “procedural audit” of how things are done in the department.
For day-to-day police and jail-operations issues, Davis said, “I would have people under me who really know what they are doing, and listen to them.”
A fresh outlook always has a certain appeal, but the county's chief law enforcement officer needs to have law-enforcement experience as well as a willingness to entertain new approaches.
Gladieux, who has that experience as well as openness to new ideas, has earned another term.