County Considers Response To Criminal Code Impact

County officials have to decide how to respond to the impact that changes to the state criminal code is having on the sheriff’s department, Kosciusko County Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine told County Council Thursday.
Rovenstine noted that, under new rules that send lower-level offenders to county jails rather than state prisons, bookings increased from 3,396 in 2013 to 3,678 last year. He said the jail is already up to 90 percent capacity after only the first six months since the changes took effect.
“I never could have seen this 10 years ago,” he said. “What (former Sheriff) Rocky (Goshert) was talking about happening in the future is now here.”
Rovenstine said that when the staff-to-inmate ratio is examined next year for insurance purposes, “I almost guarantee you it’s going to show we’re understaffed … The fact of the matter is, we have not added an employee for 10 years.”
He added that while the county corrections program and drug court are having “outstanding results,” they can only go so far. He suggested the county form a committee to address the extra demand on the jail.
Council heard earlier in the meeting that three employees will be retiring from the sheriff’s department in three years, and granted permission to hire a trainee to take over one of those specific jobs. The position will be covered by the sheriff’s sale fund.
Council also approved an additional appropriation of $20,000 for part-time 911 operator pay. The pay would cover 124 shifts for a part-time worker to help take the load off full-time operators, Director David Rosenberry said.
“The others are getting pretty burned out, they work a lot of overtime (but) I’ve got to have the people in the seats,” he said.
And council voted to endorse a letter to state officials opposing efforts to do away with township trustees. Councilman and former township trustee Jim Moyer proposed the endorsement, noting that trustees represent “very cost-effective government” and that if they were dissolved, their duties would fall to the county.