Town, sheriff working toward public safety deal

INDIAN TRAIL – Leaders in Indian Trail and Sheriff Eddie Cathey are negotiating an agreement to continue Union County Sheriff’s Office’s protection of Indian Trail residents despite calls from some to form a town police department.

Indian Trail is working on a deal to keep the sheriff’s office protecting town into the near future.

The town’s five-year agreement with the sheriff’s office for protection runs out at the end of June, meaning the town must either establish a new agreement with the sheriff’s office by then or find other means of protecting citizens – such as forming an Indian Trail Police Department. The town’s first proposal toward a new agreement was met with some disdain from the sheriff, leading to a special meeting of Indian Trail council members this weekend and the voting down of a proposal to form a town police department.

Now, council members are back to the negotiating table with Cathey in order to hammer something out prior to the current contract running out by July 1.

After weeks of behind the scenes talks among town leaders, Indian Trail officials delivered a proposed contract to Sheriff Eddie Cathey last week that he said was so out of line with prior discussions with Indian Trail that he doesn’t “have a clue where this comes from.”

The proposed contract agreed on by Indian Trail leaders put in writing many of the services the sheriff’s office already provides to the town – partly to ensure those same services are continued under any future new leadership at the sheriff’s office – but also sets stipulations for some changes between how things have worked between the two sides in the past – namely the handling of deputy equipment like cars and radios paid for with Indian Trail’s contract fee of around $1.5 million.

Cathey said he was surprised by the proposal, since some of the language hadn’t come up during earlier discussions.

“We don’t get any complaints from the public,” Cathey said of his department’s service to the town. “I asked town manager (Joe Fivas) ‘Do you ever get complaints about law enforcement, the services, anything?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Cathey sent a scathing email to town leaders after getting the proposal, in part telling them that they weren’t acting with the safety of citizens in mind. Both sides have since come back to the table to work toward a contract Indian Trail council members could vote on by this summer.

Cathey said he is open to meeting with town leaders and doing “whatever I can,” though he did not say whether this proposed contract would be a starting point for negotiations.

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