WARSAW — County Sheriff Kyle Dukes spoke to the Kosciusko County Council on Thursday night, Feb. 14 and touted his efforts to continue to reduce the county jail’s prison population and also invited county officials to come take a whiff of the place since his tenure began at the first of the year.
“I want to invite everybody sitting at the table, along with the county commissioners, to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office so I can give you a tour,” Dukes said. “I would love for you to see all the positive changes we’re making. I want you to see our jail. I want to show you that our floors are waxed and buffed and I want you to smell my jail.”
Dukes’ invitation received laughs from the council and the audience, but he clarified by touting the efforts of jail personnel to ramp up housekeeping over the past month and singled out Council Member Joni Truex with his unorthodox invitation.
“That sounds strange, but Joni Truex, I want you to smell my jail. It’s clean.”
Dukes continued by saying that he and his staff have begun efforts to address jail overcrowding.
“I’m very proud to report that as of right now, the jail population is down to 294,” Dukes said. “Kosciusko County hasn’t seen 294 in quite some time and I believe I can get that lowered some more.”
One of the strategies that Dukes said is working to reduce the jail’s population is to flip flop sentences for inmates who are serving terms with both the Indiana Department of Corrections and the county jail.
“Looking at the men and women there who had DOC sentencing, we had inmates inside our jail who were sentenced to DOC for 10 years along with a two or three-month county (sentence),” Dukes said. “We were making them do county time first, and then sending them to DOC. So I made the decision to flip flop that and make them do DOC time first.”
In reducing the jail population, Dukes said collaboration with other personnel and agencies such as the county’s prosecutor and community corrections officials, as well as looking at each inmate’s individual case, is helping to trim the facility’s number of occupants.
In other business, the council heard a report from Jill Boggs of the Kosciusko County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Boggs told the council that her organization had ramped up its marketing budget in an effort to promote the county as a destination. She said traffic on her website spiked in 2018 from the previous year and that more of her budget had been earmarked for marketing efforts.
“In total sessions to our website, we had 56,000 new unique visitors to our website through our marketing efforts,” Boggs said.
The council also heard a report from County Highway Superintendent Scott Tilden about the need for a new snow plow dump truck. Tilden said the county’s insurance company listed a truck recently involved in a rollover accident as a total loss. He said he planned to keep the truck for parts and sought permission to try to buy a new vehicle. The council approved the request.