PERU – Peru Police Chief Mike Meeks has announced he is running for Miami County sheriff in the May primary election as an independent candidate.
Meeks is now the fourth person to declare intentions to replace current sheriff Tim Miller, whose eight-year term limit ends this year.
Gary Glassburn and Tim Hunter, who both serve with the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, and Indiana State Police Sgt. Rick Brown have announced they plan to run as Republicans.
Meeks has served as the Peru police chief for two years and has worked in the departmentfor 23 years, during which time he served as a shift supervisor and assistant police chief under former chief Bill Raber.
He said he decided to run for sheriff in order to expand the successes of the police department to the entire county.
Meeks said some of those accomplishments include securing more than $200,000 in grants to update officers’ equipment such as Tasers, trauma bags, bulletproof vests, portable breathalyzers and new radios for patrol vehicles.
He was also instrumental in restarting the department’s K9 program in 2016. Since then, the number of drug arrests in the city has grown from just 15 in 2015 to 274 K9-assisted drug arrests last year.
Meeks said the police department has also developed a solid rapport with the community and Peru schools through activities such as cookie days, where officers spend time talking with students while handing out cookies, and rewarding high school drivers with donuts for wearing seatbelts to school.
“I’ve served with the Peru Police Department for 23 years, and I just want to broaden that to be able to do what we’ve done in Peru and take that to the entire county,” Meeks said.
He said his biggest priority would be fighting substance abuse in the county by focusing on helping addicts get treatment rather than putting them in jail.
“When we have to incarcerate, I would like for us to implement a quick treatment plan,” Meeks said. “ … I have had the unfortunate occasion to see addicts die due to their addiction. We need to come together as a community, and a judiciary group, to better help those in need.”
Meeks said he would also implement a work-release program to allow inmates to participate in community improvement projects, which he said would be a “win-win as we will see inmates feel they have a purpose and give them a sense of pride.”
Meeks said he is running as an independent candidate in order to minimize the role politics would have on the position.
“This is a political office, but being an independent in that position is a great thing because you don’t feel like you’re being swayed one way or the other by either party,” he said. “You’re more of a neutral body.”
Running as an independent requires 110 signatures before filing as a candidate. Meeks said Tuesday he has garnered about half of those signatures.
Candidates have until Friday, Feb. 9, to declare their intention to run for an elected office in the primary.