PLAINFIELD — The police department here received $8,776.97 in grant funds to help purchase sonar equipment to map area retention ponds. The funds came from a grant they had applied for from the Hendricks County Community Foundation.
“This is just one piece of the project that will help us be able to conduct our own searches of our ponds,” PPD Capt. Scott Arndt said. “We are finding that sometimes when people have gone missing they may be under water.”
Arndt said the department has had two cases in the past six years where individuals’ vehicles came to rest under the surface of a retention pond, making it very difficult to find them.
“Normally, if somebody goes missing, the vehicle will eventually turn up,” he said. “We follow leads and when they all dead end and we cannot find that vehicle anywhere on Earth, it may just be under water.”
In 2008, the police department found a 2005 Jeep Wrangler and the body of Harold “Brad” Hensley in a retention pond in the Glen Haven subdivision two years after he went missing. In July of last year, the body of Morgan Johnson was found in his vehicle in a retention pond near the 1500 block of Perry Road.
“Both of those missing people’s cases basically took two years to work through the process,” Arndt said. “It takes time to look for them above water and then we had to call people in to help us search the ponds. With this new equipment, we’ll be able to have a quicker resolution to our cases.”
The grant funds from HCCF will go to purchase equipment for the program. The Guilford Township Board already purchased a Kubota vehicle with a pricetag of about $13,000. The all multi-purpose vehicle can also be used to patrol the park trails.
“The township has worked with us before, so we approached them with this project,” Arndt said. “We also purchased a 14-foot ocean going kayak that will be mounted on the Kubota to get it back to the retention ponds. It’s very difficult to get to some of these ponds. The kayak can be carried by two people and will be fitted with the sonar equipment.”
The kayak was purchased from Rob Creek Outfitters in Zionsville.
The Kubota is the final piece of equipment the department is waiting on to be able to conduct searches. One of the first things they will do is map where all the retention ponds are and what they already have in them.
“This will make us more efficient when we go to search a pond,” Arndt said. “We will already know what’s in there and we can be ready to go. It will just increase our proficiency when we go out there.”
The department will be able to begin the mapping this spring, after the Kubota is delivered and fitted with the mountings for the kayak and sonar equipment.
“The town has three or four housing editions opening up,” he said. “So the number of ponds will continue to keep increasing.”