Hiring of police officer in Southport raises nepotism concerns

September 21, 2017

An Indianapolis-area police department's decision to hire the police chief's son to fill its only other full-time, paid officer position has raised concerns about nepotism.

Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn told The Indianapolis Star that his son, Capt. Kyle Vaughn, was the most qualified candidate. Tom Vaughn said he wasn't involved in hiring or direct supervision of his son. Kyle Vaughn will report to the assistant chief or the mayor.

"He's earned it," Tom Vaughn said. "He's worked really hard. I think it's also unfair to not allow him to be the full-time officer because his dad is the police chief."

Paul Helmke, director of Indiana University's Civic Leaders Center, said the decision goes against nepotism laws, which aim to ensure public money isn't enriching a single family.

"I think it does look bad," Helmke said. "It looks like the person is being hired just because of a relative. Even though that might not be the case at all, that's how people are going to assume."

The city has an ordinance that prohibits the city from employing relatives of an elected official and bans municipal employees from overseeing or promoting relatives.

Southport Mayor Russell McClure said he's not concerned about the issue.

The Vaughns are the only paid officers on the force. The department has about 40 unpaid volunteer reserve officers who cover the municipality of nearly 2,000 residents south of Indianapolis.

Kyle Vaughn has been with the department for five years. He was one of five candidates who applied for the position when it originally opened at the beginning of the year, but the position went to Lt. Aaron Allan.

Allan was fatally shot in July, leaving the position vacant once again.

Prosecutors have charged 28-year-old Jason D. Brown with murder in the fatal shooting of Allan. Authorities say he shot Allan 11 times as the officer was trying to help him following a car crash.


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