Jail seeks new guards to fill seven openings
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar said today he doesn’t believe that the safety of inmates at the Washington County Jail will be impacted by seven vacant jailer positions.
He said the remaining 11 jailers are working to make sure that the shifts are being filled and there are at least three jailers on staff at all times. Dunbar said that many of the jailers are working overtime to keep the spots filled. Because the county is saving money not having to pay for seven positions at this time, he doesn’t believe the sheriff’s department will have to request a budget amendment to pay for the overtime.
“We are really short on females,” Dunbar said. “That is where our need is.”
State law mandates that jails have a female jailer working at all times in case a female inmate is brought in. Dunbar said that he hopes for a 50/50 mix of jailers, but that more men seem to apply to be jailers.
He said, especially with new rules governed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), part-time people can’t work more than 20 hours. He said that within a month, the jail hopes to hire one full-time jailer and five part-time jailers. He said that one full-time position is contingent on a larger number of inmates and that the department won’t fill the position until the inmate count picks up.
Dunbar said that the shortage of personnel is not the reason the number of contract inmates has dropped to none over the past few weeks. He said that it is “dry all over the state.” This morning, there were 17 people incarcerated.
Three jailers are used on each shift, Dunbar said. He said that one jailer will remain in the control room and at least one will be roving among the inmates. He said if there is trouble, the department tries to have two jailers to respond instead of just one.
He said that there has had to be some rescheduling to cover such things as prisoner transportation. He also said that administrative personnel are being used for transport and that won’t impact the sheriff’s department’s patrol schedule.
The positions for the open jail staff have been advertised and that there has been some interest, Dunbar said. He said there hasn’t been as much response as he would like. He said there had been some testing done, and he hopes to begin interviewing potential candidates soon.
At the same time, Dunbar said the department is trying to get personnel up to speed using the Risk Management Solution software being installed throughout the county. He also said that he believes jailers will have to sign up inmates for ACA benefits in the near future, and that they will have to be trained to do that. He hopes to sign inmates up as they are processed in.
Dunbar said that he hopes to have the positions filled within a month. He said people interested in applying could get applications at either the sheriff’s office or the jail.