New police officer hired

CROTHERSVILLE

A Brownstown native with an extensive law enforcement background is Crothersville’s newest police officer.

J.L. McElfresh, 40, was sworn in by Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey during a recent town council meeting. His wife, Bethany, and 15-year-old son, Taylor, also placed their hands on a Bible during the brief ceremony.

This gives Crothersville four full-time police officers for the first time. Chief Richard Hanlin also has one reserve officer to help cover shifts, and he hopes to add another one soon.

McElfresh said he heard about the town council approving a plan in January to hire two police officers. Christopher Cooper was hired in February to fill one of those spots, and McElfresh decided to apply for the other one.

“I knew they still had that one opening, and just after discussing it with family and everything, I decided that it was time,” McElfresh said.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he said, smiling. “To put my body through the academy, it was really now or never is what it boiled down to.”

The town council approved to pay McElfresh $12.50 per hour. After he goes through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield later this year or at the beginning of 2017, his hourly pay rate will increase.

All of McElfresh’s academy expenses will be paid by the town. Officers have one year from the date they are hired to complete the academy, which offers three sessions per year. Cooper will start at the academy in July.

McElfresh’s first day on the job will be April 21.

With his background in working for police and fire departments, McElfresh said he expects that experience and training to help as he heads to the academy.

Last year, the legislature changed a law to where reserve police officers have to have the same training as full-time officers. McElfresh went through that as a reserve officer with the Brownstown Police Department.

“All of that training, it’s little bits of what you’ll get at the academy along the way,” he said. “It’s a lot of really teaching yourself how to learn again in a classroom.”

McElfresh’s law enforcement career started in 1996 as a jailer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Then from April 1999 to January 2000, he was a full-time officer with the Medora Police Department.

The Jackson County Juvenile Center opened its doors in 2000, and McElfresh went to work there for about 2½ years.

After stepping away from law enforcement for a few years, he re-entered the field in 2007 as a reserve with the sheriff’s department.

Since January 2009, he has worked court security. He and one other officer rotate weekly between the family and felony courts, escorting inmates to and from court, sitting in on court hearings and providing security to the court buildings.

“Working in the courts and with the judges and court staff, there’s so much knowledge to be gained in law enforcement just by doing that,” he said. “You learn so many things because you’re in court, and you learn a lot of do’s and don’t’s, and you really do learn how to do things differently to benefit yourself and the community.”

McElfresh said his interest in law enforcement stems from his father’s father, who used to be a police officer in Brownstown, and his dad, who was a deputy for the sheriff’s department for a couple of years in the 1970s.

“Throughout the years, when I’ve done different things, it’s the one thing I found that I enjoy, I’m good at,” he said. “I’ve left, and I’ve come back. I keep coming back to it. It’s the one thing I know I can do and I can do pretty well.”

While he’s stepping down from a full-time job with the sheriff’s department, McElfresh is going to remain on the staff as a part-time dispatcher. He also plans to keep volunteering his time with the Brownstown police and fire departments.

Crothersville typically has had police officers work four 10-hour shifts, and McElfresh said if it stays that way, he will balance that schedule with his other jobs.

“It just helps to be more well-rounded when it comes to doing the job,” he said of being trained in law enforcement and as a first responder.

McElfresh file

Name: J.L. McElfresh

Age: 40

Hometown: Brownstown

Residence: Brownstown

Education: Brownstown Central High School (1994)

Occupation: Recently hired as a full-time police officer with the Crothersville Police Department; also will be a part-time dispatcher for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, a reserve police officer with the Brownstown Police Department and an assistant chief with the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department

Family: Wife, Bethany McElfresh; son, Taylor McElfresh, 15

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.