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WL Chief Dombkowski Running For Sheriff, Hopes To Treat Addiction From Jail

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Though the announcement came a few days earlier than he’d planned, West Lafayette Police Chief Jason Dombkowski says he’s running for Tippecanoe County Sheriff in next year’s election.

A countdown on his campaign website shows there are still more than 270 days until 2018’s primary election, in which the police chief of ten years could face off against current GOP sheriff Barry Richard, who won the office in 2014.

Calls to Sheriff Richard’s office seeking comment Monday went unreturned.

Dombkowski sidestepped questions about whether he’s running against Richard's record specifically, but he's has already made a campaign plank out of saying the county needs what Dombkowski calls “a full-time law enforcement officer in the sheriff’s office.”

That comment could be interpreted as a jab against Richard, who drew fire upon election for saying he’d split his time between being sheriff and also doing his previous job as head of a local Boys and Girls Club.

Dombkowski also says he wants to do more to address the county’s drug addiction crisis.

“This community deserves a sheriff, or any law enforcement head, to be tough on crime," Dombkowski says. "And especially in these challenging times, my record shows we can do that.”

Dombkowski would not say if he was calling Richard soft on crime, saying he wanted to run instead on his own record.

West Lafayette's chief says he wants to arrest more drug users and drug dealers and see they receive treatment while in jail -- instead of implementing a needle exchange program in the county.

He could not say, however, how the county – whose commissioners have resisted funding several new line items for the sheriff’s office in the last couple years – would pay for that additional treatment.

Both the decisions not to give more money to the sheriff’s office and Dombkowski’s run itself -- against a fellow Republican in an office that party already holds -- could be seen as indictments of Richard.

Dombkowski launched his campaign touting endorsements from many prominent Republicans in the county, including West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, two of the three Tippecanoe County Commissioners and three West Lafayette City Councilors.