“It’s kind of a family business.”
Indiana State Police Sergeant Dennis Scudder became a police officer because his father was an Indiana State Police officer and his grandfather was the Switzerland County Sheriff.
“I went to University of Indy to be a teacher, and never did,” Scudder said. “I started working for the State of Indiana in 1984 and I worked for a couple different divisions in Family and Social Services. I did disability claims, that’s someone who works at social security claims for disability and determines if they’re eligible. Then I worked for state welfare downtown Indianapolis and did several different jobs for them. I did medicaid policy and audited medicaid building and exciting stuff like that.”
In 1993, Scudder joined the Indiana State Police (ISP).
“I actually couldn’t get on,” he said. “1993 was when the ADA was passed, and since I wore glasses they had a restrictive requirement, and I didn’t qualify until after the ADA was passed.”
Scudder said the minute he walked through the door, he was assigned to the Tactical Intervention Platoon, now called Mobile Field Force – crowd control.
“I was downtown Indianapolis through all the riots,” he said. “I was sent to Gary, back in the 1990s Gary had a high murder rate and they started shipping us up there for a couple weeks at a time.
“I went to the Republican National Convention in 2016, they were worried about security there in Cleveland,” he added. “And then deployed for a bunch of different things for that.”
Scudder became a field training officer from 2008-2013, and then was promoted to Sergeant in 2013.
“I was also on the ground floor when we started our Honor program,” he added. “We would do stuff for retiree’s funerals. That was important for me because he was a retiree, and they did a thing for him when he died.”
He also supervised the K9 units.
Scudder was the squad leader for a unit working downtown Indianapolis last summer during the riots.
“We were very busy during the riots,” he said. “I was down there for probably a month.”
“We were actively engaged a couple times by the capital,” he continued. “There were munitions. We weren’t firing guns, but there were PepperBalls. At that time, I was carrying one of the PepperBall guns.”
PepperBall guns shoot out a ball that explodes with a powder-like substance that causes eye irritation. It is intended to break up large, violent crowds, and is effective for ISP because it kept the officers from having to put their hands on people – which increases the chances of injuries, Scudder said.
Scudder said his unit was afraid rioters would try to get into the capital building. His unit was stationed there to protect it. He’d been around a few crowds protesting before, but nothing like this.
“Probably back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were a couple KKK rallies at the statehouse, so we dealt with a couple of those,” he said. “But we never had any violence like this. This is probably the most violence I’ve seen in a crowd setting.”
From 1999-2009ish, Scudder worked as a state police officer in Shelby County. He said it was a high point of his career.
“I was the only trooper in a 50 mile radius,” he said. “I tried to take care of the interstate so I worked with the sheriff’s department and the city also, so I worked with them as a supplemental officer. I really enjoyed that.”
Scudder moved to Shelbyville in 2001, and lived here ever since. His two daughters went to Shelbyville Schools.
“There were several major cases I was involved with in Shelbyville,” he said. “When you work Indianapolis you’re almost highway patrol, but down here I was more of a general police officer. There was a murder case with the city I was involved in, and a couple other big cases.”
The murder case dealt with a person killing another with a landscaping tool.
“The only reason I was there was because I heard a fight over the radio, so I went down there,” he said. “I’d arrested him once before. For some reason he wanted to talk to me and I interviewed him for the city. It was one of those weird things that happened. For some reason he wanted to talk to me. I don’t know if I made an impression of him the first time, and I didn’t even remember him.
“So when the detective came and saw how much he was talking to me he told me to take him to the jail and interview him,” he added. “One of the things that was interesting, the prosecutor’s office always gives us Miranda cards, I ended up giving him that card.”
The prosecutors office would give Scudder a bunch of Miranda cards – which has Miranda Rights printed on them – to take back to the rookies in Indianapolis.
Scudder was also involved in an active shooting in Fountaintown in the early 2000s.
“We had an active shooting with bank robbers who’d robbed the bank in Morristown,” he said. “Myself and a couple deputies engaged with the two bank robbers.”
Scudder said working with Shelby County offices was really easy.
“I’ve loved working here,” he said. “Really good prosecutor, and really good agencies too. We don’t always have that, sometimes we don’t get along with other agencies so it’s really exceptional how we’ve been able to work with those agencies. And of course I have some good friends I’ve made along the way.”
Scudder’s official last day was on Sunday. He’ll be turning his equipment in on Friday.
ISP officers held a retirement party for him last week, and Shelby County friends plan to throw him one on Thursday. It’s a surprise, so he has no idea what’s going on, he said.
He plans to work with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, but he’s not yet sure when that’s going to happen. He doesn’t have any other plans for retirement.
“Pay off student loans for kids and take it easy,” he said.
His oldest child graduated from the University of Indianapolis, and his youngest is a student at Anderson University. They don’t plan to continue the family business.