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Warren Co. Jail closing, local police frustrated

The Warren County Jail is finally shutting down. But local police departments say they will suffer because of its closure.
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WARREN COUNTY, IOWA, Iowa — The Warren County Jail is finally shutting down. But local police departments say they will suffer because of its closure.

A stillness is falling over the Warren County Courthouse and Jail. After years of deteriorating conditions, the doors are finally closing Friday. The biggest change on the horizon is that inmates inside the third-floor jail are moving to surrounding counties’ jails, including Jasper and Clarke counties.

“There’s been a certain level of frustration,” said Captain Brian Scher with the Indianola Police Department.

Capt. Scher says Indianola Police – and other cops in Warren County – will have to foot the bill to transport and house their inmates at those other county jails. The cost: $90 per inmate.

“Obviously we’re having a budgetary impact with the 90 dollars per prisoner that we’re going to drop off to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office,” Capt. Scher said. “And on average, the Indianola Police Department arrests 400 prisoners a year.”

That is $36,000 a year, when it used to be $0. Indianola Police did not need to pay anything before because moving inmates from the police station to the Warren County Jail was only a one minute drive. The drive to the Jasper County Jail is a nearly one-hour trip.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty tells Local 5 he is looking at taking in around 20 to 30 prisoners from Warren County — maybe even more.

“While it does benefit our county monetarily, our hope is that Warren County is able to get a plan and a bond issue developed so they can move forward with their own jail facility,” Sheriff Halferty said.

There is no timeline for when that will be. It could be several years.

Indianola Police says one good part about this plan is that Warren County deputies will drive the prisoners to their new facilities — not the officers from the local police departments.

“They don’t have to travel far,” Capt. Scher said. “Most officers are injured of killed in car accidents.”

But while the calm is just starting at the jail, the chaos for local agencies is just beginning.

“This is the best option at this point,” Capt. Scher said. “This is the hand we’re dealt so we’re going to play it.”

Warren County voters have a chance to approve a new jail. They will vote on a bond referendum in March.

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