County board approves new design and improvements for sheriff’s department

Published 4:00 pm Monday, December 20, 2021

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved the schematic design of a new sheriff’s building and improvements to the detention center in a regular board meeting on Monday morning. The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department has already begun with the highly anticipated improvements to their facilities.

“We’re making progress, but not as quickly as we had hoped,” said Tom Howorth of Howorth & Associates Architects. “We’re ready to proceed with the scheme that we got for the sheriff’s department.”

The first phase of the project will add on a commissary to give the existing building more room for food distribution to inmates and jail staff and a perimeter fence for security. The second phase will add an administrative office, which will be placed in the currently vacant lot neighboring the county detention center.

Sheriff Joey East said the department and detention center’s needs have changed over the past few decades and these improvements will help them better address the needs of the department staff. The sheriff’s department was built a few decades ago when the county only about ten deputies, but it has grown to 48 deputies and additional administrative, medical and jail staff.

“Our facility is right at 30 years old and it needs some upgrades,” said East. “We need to add a few cells and make some accommodations for a lot of areas that are just worn out but in doing that, we have to move our staff out.”

The new cells will increase capacity in their women’s facility, which only has 10 cells at this time and they are almost always at maximum capacity, according to East. Additionally the added cells will address a rising need law enforcement is witnessing in the community.

According to East, they are encountering more people with mental illness and they are making efforts to accommodate them with the cells they are adding.

“We’ve seen an increase in people we have to hold for mental evaluation, or alcohol or drug reasons,” he said. “We only have so many observation cells, so we have to increase that so we can see them.”

LCSD has taken steps to hire a full-time physician and several nurses and the medical staff’s facility will be expanded so they can provide better services to the inmates.

All these plans have been put into place but the only work being done currently is the addition to the jail and small maintenance work like changing locks and plumbing.

“We’re very excited about the changes,” he said. “We’ve grown so much and we just need a facility that will accommodate all of our needs.”