Two men squaring off in primary for Allen County Sheriff

From left to right - Indiana State Trooper Luke NaThalang and Allen County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy David Gladieux

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Allen County will have a new Sheriff next year, and two men with plenty of experience will go head-to-head in next month’s primary on the Republican side.

Dave Gladieux has worked for the Allen County Sheriff’s Department since 1985.  His opponent in the primary is Luke NaThalang, who has worked with the Indiana State Police since 1984.

“I have a wide, broad experience throughout the state,” NaThalang told NewsChannel 15 Thursday night.  “I’ve worked in every corner of the state with different agencies.  I’ll be able to bring that knowledge and experience from different jurisdictions.  There are a lot of good ideas, and I’ll bring those into Allen County.”

NaThalang said he has supervised all the Indiana State Police posts in the northern half of Indiana for the last eight years.

“Most importantly, I’ve been the chief deputy; the number two in charge for the agency” Gladieux said.  “I have worked in nearly every division in the department.  I know the ins and outs.  I’m used to dealing with a $20 million budget.  Basically I’ve been training for this job for the last seven years as the chief deputy under Sheriff Fries.”

The two men spoke at an event held by the Republican Women’s Club at the Allen County Public Library Dupont Road branch Thursday night.

Both men said they wanted to take steps to make sure Allen County’s record year for homicides, which was set in 2013, would never be repeated.

“We have great resources here in Allen County,” Gladieux said.  “We got the DEA and the FBI, we currently work closely with both.  We need to continue that relationships with those organizations.  They need just as much as we need them.  There’s no sense of letting politics get in the way of anything when it comes to public safety, in my opinion.”

NaThalang said he wants to see more programs started that are aimed at at-risk children.  “I totally believe in community involvement,” he said.  “Myself, I’m involved in Big Brother Big Sisters.  I’d like to start there, and keep that going, so when they grow up they won’t be criminals.  We won’t need more jail cells.  It’s going to take time.  It’s not going to happen overnight.  The problems we have not started in the early 1980s.  If we don’t do something about it now, it’s only going to keep growing.  There’s no doubt about it.”

Another big challenge facing whoever next year’s sheriff is will be how to handle a new law that could drastically affect the sheriff department’s budget at the county jail.

A new state law will go into effect in July that will move as many as 500 inmates from state prisons into the Allen County Jail.  The change could cost the county an additional $8 million to house those inmates.

“I would like to work with the county council and the commissioner to figure out how we can expand work release,” Gladieux said.  “Let’s assist them in expanding community corrections.”  He added that a last resort could be to finish some cell blocks that would give the jail an extra 80 beds.  “I know work release is almost full.  I know community corrections is nearly full.  There are some opportunities out there to join those two programs in a new and larger location.”

“I’ll have to sit down and look at the budget itself.  The jail budget and the sworn officer budget, and look at it intensely,” NaThalang said.  “There’s room for improvement.  There’s definitely room for improvement.  Unfortunately, this was mandated by the legislator.  There’s nothing we can do about it.  Our job is to enforce the law.  The sheriff’s job is to house the inmates, and it’s the county council’s responsibility to fund those requirements.”

The primary election is set for Tuesday, May 6.

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