Commissioners OK Emergency Purchase Of Vehicle By Sheriff’s Office

After hearing why the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office made an emergency purchase of a police vehicle recently, the commissioners unanimously approved the action.
Sheriff Jim Smith said, “I come before you this morning … in an effort to ratify a recent purchase the sheriff’s office made.”
He read an email he sent to each of the commissioners and the auditor’s office on the purchase.

“With the recent death of an Indiana sheriff’s transport officer in Marion County earlier this year, it became apparent to our department that our security measures for the transport of prisoners was insufficient or deficient. In an effort to increase the security element to the transporting of prisoners, a vehicle purchase was required,” Smith read.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy John Durm, 61, died in July following an attack by inmate, Orlando Mitchell. Mitchell, 34, assaulted Durm while the van was inside the sally port, or fortified entrance, of the Adult Detention Center on Indianapolis’ south side, according to Mitchell then stole the van and crashed into a utility pole before other deputies returned him to custody.

Smith said Tuesday that at the time he was preparing the email, the KCSO was still waiting on its original 2023 vehicle purchases that were ordered at the beginning of the current calendar year. The vehicle orders are slow-going throughout the state, he said.
“In order to ensure the safety of the transport officers, an immediate purchase was needed. With inability to order and receive police vehicles in a timely manner, our department researched many dealerships and were able to locate a 2023 Dodge Durango from a dealership lot at LaPorte Chrysler Inc. in LaPorte for less money than actually each of the five Durangos we ordered earlier this year,” Smith said.

In order to secure the vehicle, he said it was believed that the purchase was needed immediately. If he waited until the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday for pre-approval, Smith said he felt they would lose out on the vehicle as quickly as they were going.
The purchase of the vehicle was made out of the commissary account and will not require any additional appropriations. Smith said there are sufficient funds in the commissary to support the purchase.

A jail commissary is a store within a correctional facility from which inmates may purchase products such as hygiene items, snacks, writing instruments, etc.
“We felt it was an emergency purchase,” Smith said. “The current vehicle that we’re using is a Chevy Traverse with 40,000 miles on it. The problem with the Traverse, it’s a good vehicle, it’s just not a police car. So when you start looking at putting cages and safety partitions, it’s going to cost us quite a bit of money to customize because it is a civilian car. So rather than spending the money and doing that, we’re going to repurpose that vehicle to one of our administrative positions, so we’re still going to be able to use it, it still has a lot of life in it.”

With the purchase of the Durango, he said they’re going to be able to put the appropriate safety elements inside it to make it as safe as possible for prisoner transports, which are done frequently.

Commissioner Bob Conley said the underlying reason for the purchase of the vehicle was safety so he made a motion to approve the request. The motion passed 3-0.
In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved the request for proposals (RFPs) for the Chinworth Bridge trail extension and the blueways and greenways master plan, as requested by the Kosciusko County Parks and Recreation Board.
The commissioners and county council approved the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on Aug. 1 for the two projects.
• Approved signing the title page for the drawings by VS Engineering for bridge 161, as requested by Kosciusko County Highway Department Superintendent Steve Moriarty.
Bridge 161 is over CR 200S, right next to Ind. 15.
“This is the final step,” he said, with bid letting in December for construction.
• Approved Emergency Management Agency Director Kip Shuter’s request to apply for the Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness Grant for $20,000. Shuter said it is a Department of Transportation federal grant, managed through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The maximum that can be applied for is $20,000 and it is a reimbursement grant.
“This grant basically pays for the training and exercise that our county commits to and has to perform every year. We’ve applied for this grant many, many years previously,” Shuter said.
• Approved Cullen Reece to serve on the Lakeland Regional Sewer District Board of Directors, with his term expiring April 18, 2027. Reece replaces Bob Marcuccilli, who vacated his seat on the board for personal reasons.
• Approved the quarterly claims and operating report for Kosciusko Area Bus Service, as presented by General Manager Steve Lockridge. The quarterly claims are for April 1 to June 30. Lockridge also reported KABS received its two news buses on Monday.
• Heard from Lori Shipman, Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation, about the Kosciusko County Development Land Trust, a 501(c)3 agency that was started in 2020. The trust does things like land banking – acquiring properties, redeveloping, economic development projects and real estate development projects throughout the entire county.
She said the trust and the county could work together to get properties back on the tax rolls while helping to provide housing that is much needed in the county.
• Approved a quote for $12,350 from eGov Core Technologies for updating the county’s website, as presented by Auditor Rhonda Helser.
She said the website committee determined that the website needed updated and additional features needed added to it, including ADA accessibility, a translation option and a smart search.
• Announced the next commissioners meeting is at 9 a.m. Sept. 12.