MOUNT WASHINGTON - With local jails across the state searching for ways to pay the bills while incarcerating a growing number of inmates, Larry Ethington believes he might be the person needed to help Bullitt County’s situation.
Ethington, a 31-year law enforcement veteran, has thrown his name into the ring to be the next Bullitt County jailer.
“I have some new ideas that will help the county,” said Ethington, who has been with the Bullitt County sheriff’s department the past eight years.
The Mount Washington resident said the timing was right to make his first political run.
Others who have talked about running include incumbent Danny Fackler and Paul Watkins.
In the past, Ethington said people have talked to him about running for office but the Democrat said it just wasn’t the right situation.
Now, he believes he can make a difference.
A top priority will be to lessen the burden on the county’s general fund to support the detention center.
While agreeing the detention center would never make money, he felt more could be done to lessen the amount the county must subsidize each year.
First, he would examine the expense side of the ledger and determine is there are any savings without sacrificing manpower.
Second, he would aggressively pursue the U.S. marshals for the ability to house federal inmates at the local facility. Ethington said these are normally low-risk prisoners who would bring more per diem from the federal government.
He would also look at whether more state inmates could be housed at the jail without putting the staff’s safety in danger.
Realizing these are not brand new ideas, Ethington said he ability to work with people might help convince fiscal court that they are good ideas.
“There must be better communication between fiscal court and the jailer,” said Ethington, 55. “I work with people well and I’m able to reach a compromise on issues.”
He said his experience in law enforcement tells him that officers need to be able to bring in prisoners as quickly as possible so they can return to their regular patrol.
One change he would like to see is to allow inmates who may be injured be allowed to enter the jail once EMS does an evaluation. Now, officers are often required to take inmates to the hospital before they can be admitted.
Ethington said there are times when a hospital visit is needed; however, if EMS personnel are satisfied, the jail staff should be OK with taking control of the prisoner.
He believes inmates could be utilized for more community projects, which would save money for the various agencies and would allow inmates an opportunity to get out of their cells.
Ethington said he was proud that he treated people properly, even those he might have to arrest. Many have come back and thanked him for his work and treatment.
The same would go with his treatment of the inmates and jail employees.
“You have to treat people like you want to be treated,” said Ethington, who said all the current jail employees would be welcome to continue working if he is elected.
In talking with the voters, Ethington said he would tout his honesty, his willingness to do what he says and his ability to work with anyone, even if they have differing opinions.
“I take pride in myself and my work,” said Ethington. “I will give 110 percent in anything I do.”
The Democratic primary election will be next May with the general election in November 2010.