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Steve Bell, a local leader with more than 30 years of varied and valuable local law enforcement experience, plans to "walk and talk" to voters in all parts of Clay County in his campaign to win nomination and election as sheriff in this year's May Democratic primary and November general election.
"I believe our county residents deserve better and more patrolling by the sheriff's department, especially in the southern part of the county," he said. "Perhaps the sheriff's office is too top heavy with administrative staff. I believe more staff needs to be on the road. My goal is to create a climate for a safe community for all citizens in every demographic region of this county."
Bell also said the new jail must be managed effectively and efficiently.
"Voters want to know that new jail can be operated without breaking the county," he said. "With my management skills, I know I can do that. I also intend to make the meeting rooms at the jail available for community meetings. The jail must be an asset to the county, not just a modern place to house criminals."
Bell, chief probation officer of the county since 1982 and a probation officer since 1978, started his law enforcement career in 1974, serving as a deputy sheriff for three years, advancing to the rank of chief deputy, before becoming a Brazil police detective. He resigned after a year to become county probation officer.
In addition to his experience, he is educated for a career in law enforcement, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in criminology from Indiana State University.
"I have the education and skills necessary to effectively manage the sheriff's department," he said. "The organization and fiscal responsibility of running our new jail will be a top priority for me."
In addition to walking door-to-door in all sections of the county in his campaign, Bell promises to conduct "town meetings" in big and small communities to develop community programs and react to feedback from citizens if he is elected sheriff.
A firm believer in close cooperation among agencies, Bell said, "I will work to bring city, county and state law enforcement agencies together to provide better communication with each other and with other agencies such as probation, parole, community corrections, prosecutor and the courts."
An active leader of First United Methodist Church of Brazil, his memberships include 25 years on the Child Protection Team, Clay Community Foundation, Coordinating Council for a Drug Free Indiana, Clay County Emergency Management Advisory Board, United Way of Clay County, chairperson of the Community Corrections Advisory Board, Clay County Hospital Board, Riley Hospital Fundraising chairperson for Clay County and 28 years as a member and leader of the Brazil Rotary Club, which is known as a friend of youth. In addition, he served on the Probation Officers' Advisory Board for the Indiana Judicial Center.
A lifelong resident of Clay County, he and his wife, Michelle, have a daughter, Carlee, 13, who is an eighth-grader at North Clay Middle School. He has a son, Geoffrey Bell, 27, who works in the engineering department at Great Dane.