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Sheriff gives update on jail personnel needs

DEWAYNE HOLLOWAY/dewayne@mcnews.online
MOUNT IDA – Montgomery County Sheriff David White addressed the Quorum Court Monday night regarding an increase in staff for the new criminal justice facility and the reasons for that increase.
The meeting opened with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. Flag. Justices of the Peace quickly approved the minutes from last month’s meeting and the financial report before moving on to new business.
There were two brief items dealt with before the sheriff was given an opportunity to speak.
The JPs approved an ordinance authorizing the county to do business with Suzanne Robinson. Robinson currently works in the county clerk’s office and will be working as deputy coroner during her off hours in the clerk’s office.
The JPs approved a resolution allowing the circuit clerk’s office to pursue a grant from the Circuit Clerk’s Office Automated Records System Grant Fund. Circuit Clerk Penny Black stated that the county has applied for and received grant money from this fund in the past. The grant money would be used to replace four workplace computers in the circuit clerk’s office and to purchase two lap tops with document scanners. The lap tops would allow the clerk’s office employees to work from home in the event of another shutdown due to COVID-19.
Sheriff David White was given the floor to speak about staffing in the new criminal justice facility. He began by reminding the JPs that one of the reasons they chose Southbuild to build the facility was because of the “hub” design they utilized in their construction plans. He explained that this allows the sheriff’s office to monitor more prisoners with fewer people. His hope was that this would allow his office to maintain the facility with fewer people.
The sheriff distributed copies of an email he received from Sterling Penix, the state’s criminal justice facilities review coordinator. In the email Penix wrote about the findings from a recent review he had conducted in Montgomery County. In his report he stated that it looked like the sheriff’s office would need 15 full time positions for a site that utilizes three on duty employees.
He explained that you would need five people per slot and with three on duty slots that means they would need 15 full time employees.
Sheriff White stated that this didn’t include support staff such as a jail administrator, visiting nurse, food preparation personnel, or maintenance.
He shared that he has hired three people as authorized by the quorum court and expects them to be attend training soon. This will bring his total of full time employees in the jail to 12, three shy of the review board’s recommendation. He added that he felt they could open the jail with 12. This would allow them to move into the facility and then hire the remaining three.
The county could assume possession of the facility as early as the end of August. Members of the Sheriff’s Office have stated that they hope to be using the courtroom by October and the jail facility by early next year.

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