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Sheriff's office defends keeping Anderson, Cottey on payroll

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At a time when scrutiny of public safety spending is as intense as ever, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department is keeping two former sheriffs on its payroll as consultants.

Former sheriffs Frank Anderson and Jack Cottey are each being paid $35,000 per year out of the department’s commissary fund. Those funds do not come directly from taxpayers, but instead from telephone and food-snack charges to inmates and their families at Marion County jails.

The commissary fund spends about $2 million per year on top of the department’s $102 million budget funded by taxpayers.

Anderson, a Democrat, and Cottey, a Republican, started working for Sheriff John Layton in March 2011 when he asked them to investigate the death of a pregnant woman at Liberty Hall, a Marion County prison run by a private contractor.

Since then, Cottey and Anderson have continued work on a variety of projects for Layton, said Kevin Murray, an Indianapolis attorney who serves as legal counsel to the sheriff’s department.

“This is a great example of how government ought to work—taking advantage of institutional knowledge so that you’re not reinventing the wheel,” said Murray, of the law firm Frost Brown Todd LLC.

But the relationship drew criticism from Gary Welsh, a local attorney who writes the blog Advance Indiana. In a Sept. 9 blog entry, Welsh questioned why Cottey and Anderson were still on the payroll.

“I don't think it is appropriate for the sheriff's office to be paying former sheriffs to provide consulting services for the office. It smacks of cronyism at its worst,” Welsh wrote in an e-mail Thursday morning. “Both individuals are drawing lucrative pensions from their former government service, and neither possesses the appropriate qualifications for the services they are reportedly performing for the office.”

Cottey became sheriff in 1995 after defeating Layton, a Democrat, in an election. His tenure involved several controversial incidents, including an investigative report in 2000 by WTHR-TV (Channel 13) showing Cottey drinking at bars and then driving his county-owned vehicle. Cottey insisted he never drove while drunk.

And, in December 2002, Cottey’s last month as sheriff, he called 911 to complain about his car being towed.

“I commend Sheriff Layton for forgetting politics and wanting to get things done,” said Cottey, 73, who quit his job with a security company when he started working for Layton. “He said he had ideas on things that he wanted to get our experience on. I couldn’t say no.”

Anderson, the former director of the Federal Witness Protection Program and a former U.S. marshal in Indiana, succeeded Cottey in 2003. He served as sheriff through 2010.

Both Anderson and Cottey keep an office at the sheriff’s administration center on South Alabama Street. Cottey said he's in the office at least three to four hours a day. Anderson said he works a similar amount of time, either on site or off. Both said they make themselves available to Layton all hours of any day.

Anderson and Cottey periodically visit Marion County Jail 2 to check up on the private contractor that runs it, Nashville-based Corrections Corp. of America.

Cottey, a former state representative, helped the sheriff’s department give input to legislators on issues with Indiana’s sex-offender registry, which was studied this year by a summer legislative committee.

Anderson, who spent much of his career planning building security for the federal government, has helped the department take over security at the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis.

Both men helped Layton study the possibility of obtaining federal funding to build a new criminal justice center that would, in part, provide space for about 150 federal convicts from Indiana now housed in Kentucky due to lack of space.

And both men have advised Layton on ways to find savings in the department budget at a time when Mayor Greg Ballard has zeroed in on public safety for budget savings.

For example, Anderson and Cottey met early this year with officials from Wishard Health Services, which bills the sheriff’s department for all arrestees brought there for care or for Wishard patients who end up being arrested.

Those costs had spiked for the sheriff’s department after it took responsibility for them in 2010. Anderson and Cottey said they worked with Wishard security officers to be more judicious about which patients actually needed to be arrested.

“This is where I started my law-enforcement career,” said Anderson, 74. “I felt what better place to put those years of experience that I have to work with an agency that I started out with.”

Ben Hunter, a Republican member of the City-County Council, said the sheriff’s department’s contracts with Anderson and Cottey are “not bad, if there’s been productive work.”

“It should be reviewed,” said Hunter, a former Indianapolis police officer who is now chief of staff to Butler University President James Danko. “I would like see the work product, an annual report, or presentations that they have made.”

Hunter said if Anderson and Cottey can help the sheriff’s department operate more efficiently, then paying them now will pay off later. But, he added, “If you come back eight years from now—even three or four years from now—and they’re still on the payroll, then yeah, I am going to have a critical eye toward that.”

 

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  • cottey
    This isn't the only payroll Cottey is on. Hell be lining his.pockets with taxpayer money until the day he diees!!
  • Check the budgets
    If you want to see a real travesty of government spending, please look at the Sheriff's department budget both before the merger with IPD and after (up to now). What I understand is that the Sheriff's budget didn't get cut AT ALL even though most of the manpower is now under the IMPD umbrella. And look at how many people Layton has hired (and Anderson before him), for what is supposed to be a greatly reduced responsibility. These guys are all driving around in new cars (and aren't responsible for road patrols) while IMPD is being told they might not get their contracted raises next year. Something's wrong with this picture. IBJ, please investigate!!
  • Sheriff Anderson
    Murray says Frank Anderson was retained to investigate an inmate death at Liberty Hall? Given my several years of dealing with Sheriff Anderson's running of the jails that would be the first time Sheriff Anderson ever conducted such an investigation. When Frank Anderson was Sheriff, he would not investigate inmate deaths and injuries at the jails even though he was directly responsible for ensuring that private medical provider complied with their contracts. Examples: One inmate died at Jail #2 for not getting treated for pneumonia. Layed around for days sick and medical staff didn't treat him. I had one client at Jail #2 who didn't get his high blood pressure medicine and died. I had another one at Jail #1 who didn't get his heart medication and died. On every occasion, Sheriff Frank Anderson did zero investigation into the deaths and did nothing to the medical providers who failed in their responsibilities. Several nurses at Jail #2 complained publicly about inmates at the jail not getting medication, getting expired medication, getting cheaper substitute medication in violation of Indiana law, HIPAA violations such as inmates being interviewed in front of other inmates about their medical problems, etc. What did Sheriff Anderson do? Absolutely nothing. Refused to look into it. Didn't matter that we had it all documented and could have provide him with the information and witnesses. He wasn't interested in conducting an investigation. Period. To his credit, Sheriff Layton is taking a different approach to the privatize jails and privatized medical services than Sheriff Anderson ever did. He appears to take his responsibilities seriously. He did an investigation of the death of a pregnant woman at Liberty Hall and took action. Ironically one of the things he noted at Liberty Hall was the failure to provide the required 24/7 medical care, including on weekends. (The fact the woman didn't have medical care immediately available may have led to her death.) I believe Sheriff Anderson was warned about that years earlier and yet he took no action.
  • GOVERNMENT AT WORK
    THIS IS YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK FOR YOU.

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