Sheriff Dave Thomas sits in his new office at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department downtown Friday afternoon after his first few days in office. (Courier staff photo by Tali Hunt)
Sheriff Dave Thomas sits in his new office at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department downtown Friday afternoon after his first few days in office. (Courier staff photo by Tali Hunt)
Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Thomas officially took over the department Wednesday.

By Friday afternoon he said the whole transition process — from assigning duties to physically moving into his new work space — has gone very smoothly. So far, the bumpiest transition the office — and Thomas — are having is remembering not to address former two-term Sheriff John Wallace as “Sheriff” since Wallace remains in the office as a chief deputy.

Thomas said he is excited about continuing to build on the foundation he and Wallace started to build eight years ago.

“We’re going to be the best sheriff’s department we can be for the citizens of this community,” said Thomas. “...and with the deputies and team we have now I know we’ll be able to continue to move in the right direction...we have great deputies here and that’s a blessing.”

While Thomas was the department’s chief deputy he was part of a group that is working to build a network of resources and individuals to act as a Drug Task Force in Jefferson County and some of the neighboring counties. He said officers from the participating agencies will be assigned to the task force to focus efforts on fighting the use and distribution of narcotics and other illegal drugs. The task force also will partner with the Indiana State Police.

Thomas said he knows there is a great potential for the task force to make an impact on the local community, thanks to the shared network of information it will provide to all departments. He said he plans to assign a detective to the task force and to continue working closely with the partnering agencies as sheriff.

Along with the task force, Thomas said he hopes to provide more training and better equipment to his officers whenever possible. He said officers have to attend training each year to keep their certifications, but that the training can be varied and allow officers to have a chance to learn more about specific areas and duties and hear from experts in different fields.

“You can attend a class or training and learn to pay attention to details you never would have before and they can make a big difference in the case,” said Thomas, explaining that officers can be new to the field or be veterans and still take valuable information away from a training.

“I’ve got a lot of people I can lean on for help,” said Thomas of his colleagues in his department and throughout other law enforcement agencies.

“When you’ve got him sitting right in there,” said Thomas, gesturing to the wall separating his office from Wallace’s, “it’s hard to be nervous about anything at this point because if I’m unsure on something, a man who served as sheriff for eight years is right there.”

Courier staff writer Tali Hunt can be reached at (812) 265-3641 or at thunt@madisoncourier.com