Early today every Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office merit deputy and jail confinement officer took the oath of office.

Superior Court I Judge David Cates gave the oath to the merit deputies first, followed by the jail confinement officers in Cates’ courtroom.

“With a new sheriff in the county, I wanted my ‘family’ to come and take the oath under my administration and my name. It’s just something that any new sheriff comes in and wants to do and does,” Sheriff Kyle Dukes explained afterward.

The deputies and officers have taken the oath before, he said. “But again, with the new sheriff and me coming in, it’s custom that we do an oath of office,” he said.

Dukes took office Jan. 1 after winning the election in 2018 and said his first week has been “very interesting.” He previously was an Indiana State Police trooper.

“I work 13-hour days and probably should be working 17-hour days. I tried to learn as much as I can on the first seven days and I’m being pulled in every direction – meetings here, meetings there. But one thing I told my jail staff is, this is my family and I appreciate everything that they do for this community. They’re hardworking men and women, and I appreciate their hard work and dedication,” he said.

Dukes said being sheriff was a “big job” and he has concentrated his efforts into the jail.

“I am proud of the jail. That jail has turned around in seven days. Turned around. But it had to take everybody on board with the new game, a new jail commander. I’m very proud,” he said.

Two days ago, he said floors were being buffed and waxed until they were shiny and clean “and it smells good back there.” That’s what he said jail trustees were for - to help keep the jail clean.

As an example of how the jail has turned around in the past week, Dukes said, “There was a lot of small things – rules that weren’t being followed. And when a bunch of small things aren’t being followed at the end of the day, it ends up being a big problem, and that’s what’s occurring here.”

He said a couple of new rules were implemented so far, with more rules to be implemented a couple at a time instead of a bunch all at once. He said he and the new jail commander, Shane Coney, will make sure the rules are enforced.

“It’s a simple thing like jumpsuits. Every person incarcerated at the Kosciusko County Jail is now wearing a jumpsuit and it is staying on. And, we have a red line, which is 5 feet from the window, and you have to stay behind the red line, and that red line is there for safety purposes,” Dukes said.

“Two things like that, that seem simple. But when they’ve never been followed, but now they are, it’s a battle, but we’re doing it,” he said.

Next week, Dukes said a public information officer for the KCSO will be hired. That position is expected to be hired from within the department, he said.

Three new detectives were hired earlier this week from within the KCSO.

“(I’m) very excited about having a room full of detectives now, because when I walked into this place there was no detectives. We have to have detectives in a detective bureau. The cases don’t stop coming in,” he said.

The detectives are Mike Fowler, Neil Likens and Tom Waikel, who were a part of the road patrol.

“We had an interview process, and those were the three gentlemen who put in for it and made it, so they are now detectives,” Dukes said.

The Central Dispatch director position is opening up soon, too, he said.

Over the last seven days, Dukes said the KCSO has had some “great” investigations and arrests.

“To be honest with you, we’ve taken some bad guys to jail in the last seven days that I’m very proud of. We have made our community safer because of hard work from the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office guys,” he said.

The other day, he said he received a text from one of his sergeants about a warrant the KCSO and Warsaw Police Department served together, calling it a great team effort.

“It’s happening. When you’re the sheriff, you have to cherish little victories. I’m just so proud of these arrests,” he said.