WARSAW — Five merit deputies, as well as four reserve deputies and several corrections staff, were sworn in to their new positions during the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office employee swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Dec. 16.
Merit and reserve deputies were each sworn in separately by Judge David Cates. Officers’ wives, girlfriends and mothers were a part of the ceremony through either pinning or giving a badge to their loved one.
Following the ceremony, Sheriff Kyle Dukes talked with family members in attendance about reserve officers and the hiring process for KCSO’s five new merit deputies.
“To volunteer your time for free and to put your life on the line each and every night you go out is unbelievable,” said Dukes about reserve officers. “It takes a special person to do that. It really does. Without the reserve program, the sheriff’s office would be hurting. We count on these people and rely on them.”
Nicholas Miller, Ryan Kirkdorfer, Cody Manges and Kyle Stamm were the four new reserve deputies sworn in during the ceremony.
Dukes also said 44 people applied for the merit deputy positions. Logan Pitts, Tyler Stringfellow, Drew Brewton, Mason Teel and Andrew Hochstetler were the five selected for the positions.
“I was looking to hire seven and I hired five,” said Dukes. “When I started out, I was at home and I knew I wanted to do a video about hiring. And I knew I wanted to talk about God, and about Christianity, morals and ethics. That’s what it was going to be. That’s what I was going to hire. This is a very special group of people. I invested in the future of Kosciusko County and these were the men.”
Dukes then addressed Andrew Hochstetler, reflecting on a tragic event that occurred 25 years ago. Andrew’s father, Det. Sergeant Phil Hochstetler, was shot and killed while interviewing a suspect about a recent burglary. Phil Hochstetler’s death in 1994 marked the first and only time a police officer in Kosciusko County has been murdered while in the line of duty.
“His (Andrew’s) dad gave the ultimate sacrifice in Kosciusko County,” said Dukes. “I never had the privilege and honor of meeting his father, but he gave the ultimate sacrifice for all in Kosciusko County. Mr. Hochstetler came into my office and said, ‘Sheriff, I’d like to have my dad’s unit number,’ which is 43-22. No one’s ever used that number since the day his father died. I’m proud to say that Andrew is going to receive his father’s number. That is truly an honor to give you that number.”
Dukes ended his speech by encouraging the officers’ family members to come to him if they ever had any questions or concerns.
“Welcome to the family,” said Dukes. “I work for you. We’re going to do what’s best for Kosciusko County.”