Despite Hodge’s guilty plea in Federal Court, those in the community are asking what’s next for a sheriff’s department and county that’s looking to move forward.
Moving forward involved building back trust that was once lost.
“The county wants law enforcement, and they’re going to back them,” said Colan Harrell, Whitley County Sheriff.
Harrell said the news of the former sheriff’s guilty plea comes at the right time.
“The ex-sheriff stepping up and pleading on this thing, it’s putting it behind us,” said Harrell.
“It’s really a slap in the face to all law enforcement when something like this happens,” said K.Y. Fuson, Whitley County Chief Deputy.
The department is still being put back together.
Thursday technicians were on hand to install a new computer system.
“The lack of equipment was a real eye-opener for me, the lack of basic equipment like flashlights, weapons, shotguns,” said Harrell.
Harrell said he is already making plans to buy four new patrol cars.
Some believe this situation will serve as a teaching moment.
“See how we can fix this and prevent any abuses like this from happening again,” said Adam Sulfridge.
Sulfridge was a reporter for the Corbin Times-Tribune. His work led to the investigation of Lawrence Hodge.
Sulfridge faced threats from Hodge’s inner circle.
“It’s a challenging thing to do but knowing that you’re helping people gets you going,” said Sulfridge.
He believes this is not the end.
“It’s just the beginning of larger things to come,” said Sulfridge.
Sheriff Harrell said the community’s support has been crucial for the department getting the things they need.
But it’s not completely over yet. Hodge still faces charges in state court.