News Tagged ‘Sheriff Oscar Cowen’
Starke County officials will break ground for the Starke County Sheriffs Department and Detention Center east of Knox on State Road 8 on Thursday, Nov. 7. The public is welcome to attend the hour-long ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. The new 146 bed facility will more than double the capacity of the existing jail, which can hold up to 63 prisoners. The project was prompted by a federal lawsuit due to overcrowding at the jail.
“We’re housing an average of 15-20 prisoners a day in other jail facilities and have had up to 30 Starke County prisoners in the Pulaski County Jail. We are desperate to get this project done,” Sheriff Oscar Cowen said. His term as sheriff ends in 2014, and he’s not eligible to run for reelection due to term limits.
The project timeline calls for completion of the work in two stages. The sheriff’s department will be done by May of 2014, and the detention pods and 911 center will be finished by April of 2015. Bids for the project came in at $13.1 million.
The pool of candidates interested in becoming Starke County’s next sheriff may shrink based on pending action by the county council to drastically reduce the pay for that position during the next term. Incumbent Sheriff Oscar Cowen earns $102,000 per year in salary plus proceeds from tax warrants, based on the terms of the contract he negotiated with the county. That can’t be changed, but state law does allow the county council to set the next sheriff’s compensation rate prior to the election. A law passed in 1993 requires the sheriff to earn at least 60-percent of what the prosecutor is paid, and that salary of roughly $125,000 is set by the state based on the county’s population. That means the next Starke County sheriff will be paid at least $75,000. Read the rest of this entry »
County Auditor Kay Chaffins explained that a transient merchant license is required for any person, firm, limited liability company or corporation that conducts business in the state in one location or by traveling place to place offering for sale goods, wares, or merchandise. She explained the license is valid for six months at a cost of $100, and after the license expires, the merchant must file with the county auditor a list of items sold to county residents and their cost. That information would then be forwarded to the state department of revenue. Those who hold registered retail merchant’s certificates are exempt from requiring this license.
The Starke County Commissioners this week tabled a discussion regarding holiday pay for a former sheriff’s department employee. Ron Lawson had been an employee of the sheriff’s department for many years as a detective, and he was also a patrolman for some time, and he told the commissioners that he has not received holiday pay that he feels he is entitled to.
Cowen said that he has heard several reports of a Caucasian woman and an African-American man attempting to sell cleaning products door-to-door in the county during non-business hours. They are reportedly driving a white and green van and are attempting to force their way into homes.
Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen gets to go car shopping, as the county council this week approved his request to purchase a second new squad car.
The council had previously heard a request from Cowen for three new squad cars before the end of the year, but the council decided to approve the first vehicle and see where they’d be budget-wise toward the end of the year. Since then, Cowen said he has received the first car, but now he’s back to see about getting the second.
Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen is reviewing video tape of an incident that occurred at the Starke County Jail Sunday night.
According to Cowen, a piece of concrete fell through the ceiling in the lobby at the jail which reportedly injured a visitor. The incident happened during visiting hours at the jail.
With the Starke County Jail construction project pending, Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen and the county officials are still dealing with overcrowding issues in the jail. Some inmates are being housed in the Pulaski County Jail, per an agreement, to help in the overcrowding situation.
Starke County Council President David Pearman said that he hopes that agreement will continue until the new jail is built.
“The state has certified our jail for 62 beds and as we approach that number, we will continue to house inmates outside our jail in another facility. Hopefully, Pulaski County will want to continue working with us.”
An internal investigation is being conducted into allegations of how an inmate was injured in the Starke County Jail.
Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen confirmed that an inmate was injured while incarcerated in the jail. Luther Lovins had been arrested by North Judson police on July 12 for a charge of Disorderly Conduct. He was released on July 26.
The Starke County Sheriff’s Department’s radio tower suffered quite a bit of damage from this week’s storm. Sheriff Oscar Cowen says a maintenance crew has come in and removed the portion of the tower that was damaged, and the department has had to re-adapt the antenna to allow them to stay in operation until they can have the tower replaced.
Currently, Cowen says they are waiting for the insurance company to come out and look at the damage to determine what they will replace it with, or what kind of antenna they will be putting up in its place. Cowen says they are not sure how long it will take before the damage is repaired, but he has heard the tower itself could cost anywhere from $35,000 and up – but they won’t have a certain figure until the insurance adjustor gives them the OK to have a company repair the damage.
Starke County Sheriff Oscar Cowen has informed the county commissioners that he is in need of three new cars.
Commission President Kathy Norem asked Cowen to come back with actual quotes, a listing of the current fleet with years in service, and their current mileage.
She also asked Cowen to look at trucks, stating they “have better resale value.”
The Starke County Commissioners have scheduled a work session Monday afternoon to revise the Sheriff’s Department Handbook and to review the recommendations proposed to codify the county’s ordinances.
The Sheriff’s Department Handbook was discussed at this week’s commissioners meeting when Sheriff Oscar Cowen asked for directions on employee vacation time. Because of different shift requirements – some officers working eight hours and others on duty for 12 – vacation time is difficult to compute.
Fifteen Starke County prisoners are being housed in the Pulaski County Jail after it was decided by county officials and Sheriff Oscar Cowen that the extreme overcrowding was just too dangerous to allow it to continue.
Commissioner Kathy Norem said yesterday that she feared the overcrowding might trigger an outbreak of violence against other prisoners or jail staff. The overcrowding puts extreme pressure on the staff, which may have contributed partially to the recent escape.
Recently, the population ran over 80 prisoners, and it’s hoped that the measure will keep the prison population at 62 or below.
The housing of prisoners in Pulaski County is being accomplished under a temporary agreement.