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Detention center gets 2 officers


January 3, 2018

Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell was given the go ahead to hire two additional full-time sworn detention officers.

During the Sweetwater County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, the Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the addition of two full-time detention officers at the Sweetwater County Detention Center.

After a long discussion, the Commissioners agreed with human resources director Garry McLean’s recommendation. McLean walked the Commissioners through the whole operation of the detention center and it’s recommended staffing by looking up the proposed staffing plan the architects put together back when the center was built.

According to McLean, prior to employees filing for the voluntary separation program, the detention center had 34 sworn positions and 19 non sworn, for a total of 53.

After the voluntary separation program and what is currently employed at the center, is 29 sworn positions and 16 non sworn, for a total of 45.

Some issues McLean looked at what positions at the detention center are 24 hour, seven days a week positions that have to be sworn officers and which ones can be completed by non sworn employees.

Currently, the jail has about 120-140 inmates, but it can hold up to 282 inmates.

McLean said for the size of the facility, there isn’t that many people running it. He said the two new positions would help with a transporting issue the Sheriff’s Department is having. Unlike other areas in the jail, transportation is something that changes based on how many inmates are in the jail. More transporting is needed when there are more inmates.

McLean said 26 sworn officers are absolutely essential to run the detention center.

He said this number however, doesn’t include the five employees needed to fill in when people are on vacation or leave.

“I’m recommending that a minimal staffing level that we are trying to get at is 31 sworn positions,” McLean said.

Later on in the presentation, McLean addressed the main reason for his recommendation.

“With in the sworn areas, this is really the health and safety, stay out of trouble, adequate supervision of inmates, staff safety, public safety area. So I think for everybody’s sake, I think this is really important for everybody to be supportive of because this is the litigious part and this is the most dangerous part,” he said.

Commissioner John Kolb asked if the juvenile facility portion of the detention center could take more juveniles if the two positions are filled.

Lowell said they would be able to take more juveniles. Since the detention center is only one of four that take juveniles and the only one that takes violent juveniles, they center will receive money from other counties to house their juveniles.

With no more questions from the Commissioners, the vote was made to approve the request.


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