Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva expressed his department’s growing need to have an effective and efficient jail and law enforcement headquarters that can accommodate the increasing demands placed on the various law enforcement departments within the county.
Largely due to the Eagle Ford Shale, the great influx of increased population and traffic volume has put a greater strain and demand on law enforcement personnel, along with the increased need of having the proper detainment facilities and administrative office space.
“We’ve seen more family violence, we’ve seen more DWIs,” said Villanueva as he explained the some of the increased law enforcement challenges within the county. “Drug-wise, we’re seeing more of the synthetic marijuana than anything else. Our (911) call volumes have really gone up. The bookings and intake in our jail has really gone up. We’ve seen a huge increase and our dispatch is very busy.”
The current jail, located at 113 N. Panna Maria Street, only has 12 beds and can no longer efficiently meet the needs of county law enforcement as it did in times past, according to Villanueva.
The new jail currently under construction will have 48 beds and is being built so that the jail can be expanded to 96 beds in the future if needed.
A new courtroom will be built at the new jail site, allowing for more efficiency in time and manpower resources.
“It’s going to have a courtroom,” said Villanueva, “so we don’t have to worry about transporting inmates to have their time in court.”
The new jail will feature some padded cells, which Villanueva states is necessary for inmates who become very violent and combative or suicidal. The padded cells will be strategically located to allow for jail staff to properly monitor and maintain the safety and security of the inmates who may be in them.
Wheelchair accessibility will be a prominent feature of the new jail and will provide greater compliance for inmates who might be wheelchair bound, according to officials from the sheriff’s department.
The new jail will be able to accommodate and house female inmates. At the current jail, female inmates/detainees have to be taken jails in neighboring counties within 72 hours of booking because the current jail cannot fully accommodate them.
“After they (female detainees) see the judge, once they go through magistration, if they don’t get released on bonds, then we have to take them to Atascosa, Wilson, or Live Oak County jails because our current jail does not house females. We accept them in booking but we cannot house them for longer than 24 to 72 hours. Usually we get them out in 24 hours.”
With the new jail being able to house females, Villanueva states that great resources of time, manpower, logistics, and expense will be saved and made far more efficient.
Alongside the new jail there will be new office space for the Karnes County Sheriff’s Department built as well. The new office space will have greater room to accommodate the law enforcement personnel and will house greater technology that is used for various law enforcement purposes.