SIDNEY — Shelby County Sheriff Jim Frye wants to reassure citizens that Sidney is a far cry from being a “little Chicago.”
“We live in a great community, and it’s a safe community. Now, do we have our issues, you know, drugs and things like that? Yes, we do — but it’s nothing compared to what goes on in a big city,” Frye said.
Recently, Frye has noticed posts circulation social media sites — most notably Facebook — claiming that the city of Sidney and Shelby County as a whole is becoming an unsafe area. Many of the posts, Frye said, are about situations that are out of law enforcement’s control.
“We can be as proactive and reactive as we want, and a lot of times, I try to stay proactive so that we can stop the things before. But some of the things, they’re totally out of our control, but it also doesn’t mean we don’t live in a safe community,” Frye said.
Frye referenced the incident in October of this year involving a stolen police cruiser from Richmond, Indiana, that came through Sidney and ended in a crash near Pasco. He said the question comes up asking why law enforcement waited to intercept the driver in Shelby County, and the reason was because it was a pursuit officer’s determination. According to Frye, the officer in question wanted to wait until he had back-up to intercept the driver, and he didn’t have back-up until they reached Shelby County.
“That doesn’t make our county bad because that happened here,” Frye said.
Another recent incident Frye brought up was the fatal crash that occurred at Dingman Slagle Road on Sunday, Dec. 5. Driver Edward Gunter, 65, was pronounced dead at the scene. Gunter had driven off from his home when Sidney Police officers had responded to a wellness check, and reached nearly 100 mph before driving off the south side of the road and overtuning in the 19,000 block of Dingman Slagle Road, eventually striking a tree and a nearby home.
“These incidents that I talk about, and there’s probably more I could reflect on — Shelby County is a safe place. As we’re getting ready for the holiday season, people will be celebrating and things of that nature. They don’t need to be worrying about walking around Shelby County or Sidney. All of (our law enforcement officers) in Shelby County are professional, and they will do everything in their power to help somebody,” Frye said.
While these incidents are unusual and uncommon in the county, Frye said the Sheriff’s Office takes regular day-to-day measures to try and maintain proactivity. Currently, the Sherriff’s Office has a contract with the village of Russia, where they provide police services for the area above and beyond what would normally be done. There are also contracts with McLean Township and Fort Loramie, where deputies are assigned specifically to each area.
“We’re taking those measures to get deputies in areas that either want or need extra patrols,” Frye said.
In addition to this, deputies are constantly patrolling the roads of the county to try and keep people from committing traffic violations, as well as from doing things that could be dangerous to themselves or others while on the road. In the detective section of the office, Frye said they are constantly investigating crimes that have occurred. Where prevention is concerned, Frye has an investigator working in the cyber section so that the office can get information before it happens so they can try and prevent incidents from happening in the county.
“These are measures we take to try and prevent and be more proactive, rather than just reacting to a traffic crash or a crime in progress,” Frye said.
Just after midnight Monday, Dec. 6, Shelby County deputies received a 911 call from Hayden Hall about his cousin, Bryce T. Slack, driving up to Sidney after making threats to him. Frye said deputies were close to the residence at the time, and were able to take Slack into custody. According to Frye, it was found on the scene that Slack had an AR-15 rifle with a fully loaded magazine in the trunk of his vehicle.
“With us being out in the area and things of that nature, we’ll do everything in our power to prevent something from happening. These deputies put their lives at risk Monday morning when they were dealing with this guy. When you try to increase your patrols at certain times of the day, you have a better chance of being at the right place at the right time,” Frye said.
The Sidney Daily News conducts a periodic interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.