The Center Township Constable was arrested again

INDIANAPOLIS – Embattled Center Township Constable Denise Paul Hatch was arrested Saturday evening for allegedly carrying a weapon in violation of a judge’s order from a previous criminal case.

Hatch was stopped by detectives from the IMPD Special Investigations Unit in the 1800 block of Lafayette Road after the officer and several of her deputies served as off-duty security guards for a private event nearby.

Hatch was charged with unlawful carrying of a handgun, a misdemeanor, violating a protective order, a misdemeanor and administrative misconduct, a felony.

At the time of publishing this article, the officer is still in the adult detention center. A judge set her bond at $25,000 cash, a higher bond than usual.

Hatch has an initial hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday

The handgun and protection order counts that Hatch’s faces would be a violation of a judge’s Feb. 29 order that Hatch not be allowed to possess a firearm.

During their arrest Saturday evening, a block north of the site of the private event where Hatch and her deputies were standing guard, police seized a 9-millimeter Glock pistol with three rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber, a holster and two Handcuffed cop badges and a cop badge on a chain around Hatch’s neck, a MECA radio and soft body armor.

Hatch’s vehicle was also towed.

The seizure of the officer’s personal vehicle was a particular irony for Paul Woods, a former Center Township deputy constable who was fired last week after Hatch reported that he had stolen a car he had loaned to her office as a company vehicle .

“We were still deputy constables and we told her one Sunday, ‘Hey, we need to get the vehicle back and put it back in the company’s name because we need to use it,'” Woods explained, “and she got used to it I didn’t want to give it back and even went so far as to call it stolen and I had to go through the whole thing and show the paperwork to the police, which is nonsense.”

Woods said he will meet with an IMPD detective on Monday to request that a formal misdemeanor charge be filed against Hatch for allegedly knowingly filing a false stolen car report against him for his own vehicle retrieved from their possession.

Woods said he wasn’t surprised by Hatch’s recent arrest.

“Unfortunately, I think she thinks some of these things don’t apply to her because the word ‘elected’ means a lot more to her than it actually means,” Woods said. “She just gets carried away with it.”

Woods himself recently lost in the May Democratic primary for Pike Township constable after serving as a deputy constable in Center and Washington townships and as a deputy town marshal and police officer.

“The main role is to serve court papers, act as bailiff and maintain the peace when necessary,” he said. “There are certain things you can enforce. Violations are not one of them, but you have a duty to act when it comes to misdemeanors and criminal offenses that are committed in your presence.”

Woods said the “duty to act” if she witnesses a crime could include the responsibility of Hatch’s deputy constables to report that she was carrying a weapon in violation of a court order if they witnessed it.

Last year, the Center Township Small Claims Court had lost confidence in Hatch’s ability to carry out the duties of her office and assigned typical auxiliary constable duties, such as serving legal documents and eviction notices, to auxiliary constables in Marion’s eight other townships County.

Last fall, Hatch ordered the bailiff’s arrest on charges that he impersonated a police officer and impersonated another person in order to interfere.

The Marion County Sheriff refused to take those arrested into custody and they were returned to work the same morning the charges were dropped.

The Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency cut off Center Township Constable’s access to Marion County’s public safety radio system after a deputy constable was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm when he was discovered to be a convicted felon.

Hatch is charged with official misconduct and misdemeanor counts of attempted aiding and abetting a felon and attempted resisting law enforcement for her alleged role in efforts to prevent the arrest of that deputy.

Hatch also faces felony abuse of office and felony theft charges for allegedly stealing food from a grocery store.

As a result of this crime, Hatch was prohibited from having access to a firearm while the charges are pending.

Before a recent preliminary hearing at the Community Justice Center, Hatch was involved in a shouting match with Marion County sheriff’s deputies who attempted to block their deputy from entering the building. The deputy accompanied Hatch in an unofficial capacity, and witnesses reported that Hatch threatened that she would one day be elected sheriff and fire the deputies.

Woods said Hatch has hired professional deputy constables, including retired police officers, but often refuses to follow their advice.

“Overall it was a turbulent time, a revolving door of MPs in and out,” he said. “She has a good staff with a lot of experience, but unfortunately if you give her input it is ultimately her decision. And then she often just says she doesn’t want it, and if you don’t like it, you can leave.”

Woods said that while other township police officers carried out their duties with assistance from about a half-dozen officers, Hatch’s staffing has increased significantly.

“The last I heard or saw was about 45 and she’s still hiring,” he said. “I think if you added them all together in all the other townships, I still don’t think you’d get to 45.”

Woods said her experienced deputies tried to warn Hatch against hiring excessive staff.

“Her main response when we questioned her was, ‘Why do you want so many and you can’t handle it?'” Her comeback was always, ‘There’s no law that says I can’t do that.’ “

Deputy constables are part-time employees who often use their limited law enforcement powers and authority to be hired as off-duty security guards at event centers, stores, apartment complexes and construction sites.

Hatch has described her hiring and personnel decisions as an example of restorative justice, providing a second chance to former offenders who have been barred from law enforcement careers.

Photos were provided to FOX59 of a deputy constable’s vehicle, bearing a municipal license plate and a “Marion County Deputy Constable” star logo, parked at the mobile home park near Huntington, Indiana, more than a 90-minute drive from the center community. The vehicle was reportedly owned by a deputy constable whose felony conviction was reportedly expunged.

When asked what value such a deputy constable might bring to Center Township, so far away, a source said it was an example of Hatch’s attempt to bolster her roster of deputies while fulfilling her mission to restore justice.

Woods said Hatch recently fired the force and told them to reapply for their positions. In doing so, he essentially brought back the same deputies after they had allegedly gone through a more intensive recruitment process.

“The same criminals she said she wanted to get rid of, they’re back,” Woods said. “Your credibility will always be in question, and no one will take it too seriously if there is a criminal behind your name.”

Woods noted that Hatch had no background or training in law enforcement when she was elected and subsequently sworn in on January 1, 2023.

“Never being in an arena like that is like giving a child, a 16-year-old, keys and never taking them and practicing on back roads before taking them to the highway,” Woods said. “This is just a train or car accident waiting to happen. And every two weeks there’s a car accident where one of these deputies does something because she can’t get along with them, and she doesn’t listen to the people who have the background to help her.”

On Sunday afternoon, the Constable’s Public Information Officer released the following statement to FOX59 and CBS4:

“The Center Township Constable’s Office is aware of Constable Hatch’s arrest and is currently gathering information regarding this matter. The Office is committed to lawfully serving the public in their absence until this matter is resolved.”

Other township police officers have told FOX59 and CBS4 that they fear state lawmakers could take action to limit the authority and training of officers and their deputies because of Hatch’s actions.

“I would be surprised if nothing came up about the number of deputies needed or the type of training they would need to have,” Woods said. “The other townships are fed up and can’t wait for something to be done, but it’s kind of an elected position so you have to stay away from them, but they complain in the dark and say they wish something would happen.” .”

Under Indiana law, a felony conviction does not disqualify an elected official from completing his or her term, and the state does not have a recall process.