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Deputy town marshal program comes under fire from Henry County sheriff

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are at least 30 privately owned and unmarked police cars in Henry County, according to Henry County Sheriff John Sproles.

“This is phenomenal, this is scary as all get out,” Sproles said.

The owners of the cars are making deals with small-town police departments and are working as deputy town marshals with full Indiana police powers and minimal training.

Sproles said the owners are putting red and blue police lights on their cars and leasing the car back to the town for a dollar, in exchange for police license plates.

“There are people out there patrolling in a police car, with a badge, with full police powers, with a gun, probably with a rifle and a shotgun … who might have 30 hours of classroom training,” he said.

To combat the issue, Sproles eliminated the deputy town marshal program at his department when he took office this year.

He said there were close to 70 people with badges and full police powers in the county.

After removing the program, he told all of the small towns in the county that his department will not respond to nonemergency calls in towns with deputy town marshals.

There are 67 deputy town marshals within eight small towns.

“It needs to be controlled,” Shirley Town Marshal Brian Pryor said. There are three law enforcement officers in his department, including him.

He says without the deputy town marshal program, he would have a hard time covering the town.

Pryor said Sproles is trying to eliminate town marshals altogether.