IN Brief

Indiana State Sen. Jack Sandlin dies

By: - September 21, 2023 9:20 am

Republican Indiana Sen. Jack Sandlin, who represented portions od Marion and Johnson counties, died Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo courtesy Indiana Senate Republicans)

Republican Indiana Sen. Jack Sandlin, who represented the south side of Indianapolis, died Wednesday evening.

Marion County Republican Party Chairman Joe Elsener confirmed Sandlin’s passing.

“We are incredibly sorry to hear of the passing of Senator Jack Sandlin,” Elsener said in a statement. “Jack lived a life in service to his community from his time on the police force, through his tenure as a city-county councilor, and finally as a state senator representing the Southside. His voice and impact on our city will certainly be missed.”

Sandlin was elected to the Indiana Senate in 2016, representing District 36, which includes southern Marion County and part of Johnson County. 

During his Senate tenure, Sandlin served on various committees, including:

  • the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee,
  • the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee,
  • the Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee,
  • the Veterans Affairs and the Military Committee,
  • the Homeland Security and Transportation Committee and
  • the Senate Public Police Committee

At the Statehouse, Sandlin championed bills related to public safety, criminal justice and road funding. Eleven of his authored bills became law during the most recent 2023 legislative session. That included legislation to remove residency requirements for 911 operators and require additional background checks for teacher and police officer hiring, as well as bills to change the state’s waste management law and expand the Purple Star program to Indiana colleges and universities.

A graduate of Greenwood High School, Sandlin served in the U.S. Army and spent 20 years as a member of the Indianapolis Police Department from 1973 to 1993. He then served the Southport Police Department from 1995 to 2009, at which time he also spent seven years as a Perry Township Trustee. 

Sandlin was a member of the Indianapolis City-County Council from 2010 to 2016 when he was elected to the Senate. 

(Photo courtesy Indiana Senate Republicans)

He was also honored with the Distinguished Hoosier Award in 1993, one of the highest awards given to Indiana citizens by the governor.

Sandlin was both a certified fraud examiner and a certified fraud specialist. He was the president of his own investigations firm, Jack Sandlin & Associates Fraud Examination.

Sandlin is survived by his wife, Lydia, a daughter and three grandchildren.

“Indiana lost a true public servant today. Senator Jack Sandlin was a gentleman who devoted his life to serving others, in public safety, on the front lines and in our State Senate,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement late Wednesday. “His clear voice and integrity will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all those who became close to him over the years.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, additionally called Sandlin “a strong advocate for the people of Central Indiana and a champion of Indianapolis.” 

“He was a valued member of our caucus, and we will feel his loss deeply,” Bray said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, friends and all those who will be affected by this sudden loss, especially his wife Lydia.”

GOP Sen. Aaron Freeman, who represents a neighboring Indianapolis district, said Wednesday he had “no words” after learning of Sandlin’s death.

“Jack was a father figure to me, great friend, and trusted colleague,” Freeman said. “My prayers are with his beloved Lydia and his daughter, Carrie.”


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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.