Incoming mayor of Austin, Ind. planning police department shake-up
Austin is considered ground zero for an HIV epidemic that has affected more than 180 people.
AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- A new mayor is about to take office in the small southern Indiana city known for an HIV epidemic.
Dillo Bush has spent the past 12 years in Austin as the Clerk Treasurer, but on New Year's Day, he officially becomes the mayor.
2015 brought new challenges to the area. The community of about 4,200 in Scott County became Ground Zero for an HIV epidemic.
WDRB asked Bush about responding to the health crisis.
"Those issues are professional issues," he said. "Medical professionals need to deal with those issues and I will not involve myself other than where I'm needed by those agencies."
One agency Bush does have plans for is the police department. Crime is a big problem in Austin, and experts say the HIV was largely spread among drug users sharing needles.
"We're going to attempt to have a younger, aggressive police force that pays attention to the community and pays attention to their responsibilities," Bush told WDRB News. "I'm not suggesting that that has not occurred in the past, but we'd like to take a slightly different approach to law enforcement."
The mayor-elect says he plans to replace Chief Donald Spicer with Austin Police Sgt. Robert Gudgel as soon as he takes office.
Bush tells us he hopes to have an open position in the department filled in the next few weeks and add another officer to the force in mid-2016.
"I would like to have those officers on every street in town during that eight-hour shift," Bush explained. "Visibility is a great tool for crime prevention."
As for other priorities, Bush says he'd like the city to tear down vacant homes and strive to be more positive about things happening in the community.
He won't be the only one taking on a different role in the New Year. Bush tells us the entire city council is new.
When asked if he can turn things around in Austin, Bush replied, "I don't think I can do anything. Hopefully, we can turn this thing around."
WDRB News reached out to Donald Spicer who declined to comment but tells us he plans to stay in the Austin Police Department as a major.
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