A look back to 2021 through the lens of the Vigo County Police Department saw tragedy and positive change, as well as a drop in violent crime incidents, according to local officials.
The shooting death of Terre Haute Police Detective and Federal Task Force Officer Greg Ferency traumatized the community in July.
Ferency, a 30-year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department, died in the line of duty on the afternoon of July 7 when he was ambushed and shot outside a federal office building near from the Vigo County Courthouse.
Ferency, 53, had extensive experience in drug crimes as an investigator and undercover agent. He had specialized training and had experience in methamphetamine-related investigations. He had served 10 years in the federal task force.
The shooting sparked a community manhunt for the suspect, who was later located at a local hospital seeking treatment for his own gunshot wounds. This man faces a murder charge of a federal agent in federal court. The motive for the shooting has not been made public.
Ferency is the third Terre Haute police officer to lose his life in the line of duty in the past 10 years. He was posthumously awarded an FBI Special Agent badge by FBI Director Christopher Wray, and was also posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and the Medal for Combat Casualties by the Terre Haute Police Department.
“You won’t meet a nicer person,” Police Chief Shawn Keen said of Ferency. “You don’t spend 30 years in this business without being dedicated, and it was absolutely dedicated. There isn’t one thing he did that he didn’t put 110% into. He was an amazing person, whether it was meth labs or human trafficking, he would go out of his way to find out all about that particular crime.
Ferency’s death came as the department was considering the redevelopment of its new headquarters to a new location in the city center.
On October 18, THPD officially started working at 222 S. Seventh St. in the old Tribune-Star building.
At a cost of $ 11 million, the city purchased, renovated and expanded the building, creating the city’s first facility specifically and properly designed as a law enforcement building. The building includes a state-of-the-art security and investigative space, as well as a criminal laboratory and evidence storage.
And with the agency seeing a reduced number of officers due to planned retirements, THPD was able to replenish its workforce by offering the state’s first distance training academy.
COVID-19 had closed the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, causing a delay in training. However, THPD was able to organize an ILEA-approved training program that was used by several agencies in west-central Indiana.
“Without this academy our capabilities would have been significantly reduced,” Keen said.
The year also saw a surge in efforts to resolve unsolved cases, as detectives took a fresh look at the unsolved homicides of Jo Ann Fox, Billy Brossman and Michael McCown.
“I think their efforts this year have demonstrated that these cases are not being forgotten and that all steps are taken to resolve them,” Keen said.
When it comes to violent crime, the THPD only investigated a single new homicide in 2021 (before December 21), despite it being the tragic shooting death of a local teenager.
Chloe Carroll, 15, was shot dead in the early morning of July 23 in the 13th Street and Poplar Street neighborhood. A young man has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting.
Carroll was a passenger in the back of a vehicle at a gas station when the shots took place.
Also in July, the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department investigated a homicide when Gayle Wilson, 72, was found dead in her rural home on Carlisle Street.
A manhunt ensued and police quickly arrested Michael C. Wilson in connection with his mother’s death. Michael Wilson had a history of severe mental illness. His court case remains pending.
City police also arrested two people in a vehicle chase and gunfire involving police in May.
Damon White and Manyari Anthony are both charged with attempted murder and awaiting trial.
The death of a disabled woman also led to the arrest of her guardian.
Anthony Cleveland faces charges of reckless homicide and negligence resulting in death in connection with the June 21 death of 32-year-old Casandra Ryan.
Ryan was found dead in the house she shared with Cleveland, which was seen by neighbors in an all-terrain vehicle while holding Ryan’s seemingly lifeless body.
Investigators said Cleveland had not sought medical attention for Ryan who suffered injuries in an apparent fall from the ATV.
A major focus in recent years, construction of a new Vigo County jail has continued to move forward, although the current substandard and overcrowded prison has become of concern due to a number of inmates being tested. positive for COVID-19.
Sheriff John Plasse has received approval from Vigo County Council to purchase a 41 body camera system for 27 merit MPs and six reserve MPs, as well as cameras for use in four spare police vehicles.
The system uses a mobile data communication system and web-based critical incident management, video evidence management and an automatic vehicle locator.
Body cameras are expected to go live in 2022.
The sheriff’s department is also adding a new K9 officer following the death of another canine officer, Plasse said.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.