Norris's Plan

Work/elected experience: Former Kokomo Police Department officer, reaching patrol-section commander and later the head of internal affairs. Currently works as a Howard County Courthouse security officer.

Age: 67

Family: Three sons, one daughter, three grandsons, two granddaughters, and one great-grandson.

Overpopulation at the Howard County Jail has become one of the county’s biggest challenges. How would you attack this problem?

As sheriff, I would familiarize myself with the exact numbers of inmates and other relative numbers such as how many inmates are from other jurisdictions.  I would then take a look at the charges associated with each inmate and having done so I would identify those inmates with low-level or misdemeanor charges and where appropriate I seek alternative means to get some of those people released with the blessings of the judges that have jurisdiction over those specific inmates.

With the current trend of having a number of repeat offenders going through the system I would not rule out the possible need to build onto the existing jail but I would like to look at possible alternative means of dealing with the problem first.

My fear is that in a short time the work release center will be at capacity while the jail is still over capacity and we be right back where we are now likely talking about an expansion again. The work release center was established with good intentions and it has been open for less than a year and already its numbers are in the 70s and we are still talking about a possible expansion of the jail.

What role can the sheriff’s department play in strengthening the community’s response to its ongoing drug crisis?

If you look at the big picture this entire country and beyond have thrown everything that we have at the drug problem and nothing has worked and I don't believe that we are going to arrest our way out of the problem. For the most part, police have attempted to take down the drug kingpins with some success; I can't help but wonder if we concentrate more on attacking the market.

Too many of our young people are dying from this scourge on our society.  I would additionally like to see minor possession of marijuana changed in such a manner that the offender is given a citation rather than go to jail.

I am not aware of any specific successful facilities that have existed that don't put time constraints on how long one has to stay in a facility. I would like to see monies that would be spent on expanding the jail be put toward a true treatment facility.

What policy changes, if any, are needed to improve the department’s role in community policing?

Several years ago the sheriff's department participated with the county drug task force by having an officer assigned there but for some reason, that officer was removed and he was never replaced. I plan to have an officer assigned to the drug task.

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