Sheriff to ask for funds to hire jail staff

Carson City's sheriff will ask supervisors Thursday to fund six new civilian positions in the jail.

"The need and drive behind this proposal is a safety issue," said Sheriff Ken Furlong. "The service technicians that we are proposing can take the place of sworn officers who are then free to deal with inmates."

Furlong said since the building of the new jail in 1999, staff has increased by two additional sworn officers -- a sergeant and a deputy -- but daily inmate population has increased by 31.

The cost to the city would be $239, 320, Furlong said, which is $118,550 less than would be needed to hire six additional sworn officers.

"Minimal staffing means maximum indifference," he said. "We do care."

He said of the 28 personnel assigned to the jail, two are service technicians who attend to visitation and medical call for inmates. The additional duties dealing directly with inmates -- such as booking and releasing inmates, transferring inmates for court and to other facilities, dispensing medication, and the constant observation of inmates -- are all performed by sworn officers.

Minimum staffing is three officers per shift, with three shifts per day, seven days a week.

"A recent audit determined detention staff is inadequate," he said. "The highest priority needs to be placed in detention."

Furlong cited eight examples of what is ignored because of the lack of personnel: Constant inmate observation is not done; shake downs are rarely performed; cell inspections on release or movement of prisoners is not done; inmate rules of conduct are not always enforced; transports are delayed; there is no roving patrol when the officers must be used for unscheduled court appearances; during medication calls one officer may be forced to supervise 20 or more inmates; federally mandated exercise periods may be delayed or canceled.

"Obviously both officer and inmate safety are compromised when sworn officers are busy being clerks," he said.

Furlong said his office has developed a plan that will phase in two officers every six months starting immediately and continuing into fiscal year 2005, when the last set will fill the requested six slots.


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