Make your home page

I-Team 8: Video raises more concerns about Indiana town marshals’ programs

Safety concern about town marshal programs

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In May, two men showed up unannounced at the East Germantown council meeting with a plan to be sworn in as town marshals and start their own police department.

Joe Lipps, an East Germantown attorney, said, “Two individuals (came) in here armed with firearms, one of them wearing a shirt that said ‘Police,’ and driving vehicles that showed me and other members of the town they included computers and law-enforcement-looking apparatuses.”  

Lipps told I-Team 8 that the men made a pitch to patrol the town and provide law enforcement at a cut-rate price.

The caveat: The men wanted to be sworn in as town marshals that night, and even provided their own oath of office for the council president to read.

”It was about two paragraphs probably, ya know, that they will become deputized as our marshals and carry on their duties from there,” Lipps said.  

He said the men looked like cops, and said they could be charged with impersonating police officers.

Lipps says that he was caught off-guard when one man mentioned his father, who was also a police officer.

“He told me that my father was his training officer when it came to being a reserve officer in the city of Richmond, but through an unofficial search on that, nothing came back,” said Lipps 

The two men offered their services to the town for $1 a year.

In return, they asked the town would provide vehicle insurance and a place to do paperwork. The town council considered the proposal, which required some details, before taking a vote. 

They asked the two men to provide background information, which I-Team 8 is told the men didn’t provide.  

“We asked the questions, the council did its due diligence interviewing them and questioning them for as much time as allotted during the meeting. Then (during) the follow-up over the phone, they didn’t have any answers, which made it a real easy decision to decline their offer,“ Lipps said.

So, who are these guys?

I-Team 8 obtained a video from the New Castle Police Department that shows an off-duty Sheriff John Sproles minutes after he came across a black Dodge Charger without a license plate.

Sproles says the car looked like a retired police car: It had police lights, a center console with a laptop computer in the front seat, and the driver was armed. The driver told Sproles he was hoping to help start a police department in East Germantown. The video was taken July 2, almost two months after the May East Germantown council meeting. 

In the video, the man can be heard saying to Sproles, “It is not all said and done, but I’m hoping for the town of Pershing – East Germantown.”

Sproles replied, “Is that Indiana?” 

The man explained the town was somewhere between Richmond. He continued to tell Sproles that the town didn’t have a marshal, but “they are trying to get a police department.”

The man told Sproles he was coming from Detroit. That was a lie.

Sproles can be heard in the video:

“You didn’t come from Michigan today. Go ahead and face up to it, you want to be a police officer, right? You didn’t come from Detroit, Michigan, today. We are dealing with so much of this stuff, these small towns, we are sick and tired of these little towns. You have already been arrested for impersonating. I’m not trying to be ugly, man, but … for the citizens, man, for the citizens. If you will lie to me, if you will lie to us – Here is my big concern, you know we can get the facts, right? What are you gonna do to the people who can’t figure this stuff out? This is what bothers me, I’m just speaking from my heart.”

The man’s car was towed.

Sproles later told I-Team 8 that they learned one of the men who attempted to start the East Germantown police department had been on their watch list for quite some time.

“One of those guys happened to be a guy we were watching who was a known gang member (of a gang) trying to infiltrate (small town police departments,)” Sproles said. “There is a nationally recognized violent gang who has the goal to infiltrate small town police departments. We know of a gang leader who has expunged records. He has spent an enormous of time in prison, (and he) got a badge in a small town in Indiana because his buddy was the town marshal.” 

The Indiana General Assembly has placed limits on the number of marshals a town can hire.