After an investigation into the October death of a Monroe County sheriff’s deputy, a report from the Indiana Department of Labor says the county is in “serious violation” of state law. Monroe County deputy sheriff Sarah Jones was hit by a Jeep and killed while directing traffic on Ind. 45 west of Bloomington, on Oct. 17. Although the incident happened at night, Jones wasn’t wearing the standard issue reflective vest.
Monroe County Human Resources Director Rhonda Foster says she wasn’t surprised by the conclusions reached in the report from the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“They were very vocal about the fact that we did not make our deputies wear vests and that deputy Jones did not have one on,” says Foster. “So we were pretty sure that would be the result of the findings.”
The county faces a $4,500 fine if it’s not in compliance with Department of Labor regulations by Jan.15. But Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Pershing says his deputies are already being retrained in the proper use of reflective clothing. He also says new and improved vests are on the way. Regardless, Pershing says even if county policy had been changed earlier this year, he doubts it would have prevented the death of deputy Jones.
“Under the circumstances, and after reviewing what reports I’ve had made available to me,” Pershing says, “I don’t think it would have made any difference whether or not Sarah Jones would have had a vest on.”
Jones was the first Monroe County sheriff’s deputy to die in the line of duty.