Monday evening and Tuesday morning I contacted several county commissioners concerning Sheriff Jim Hammond's upcoming budget proposal. I had heard the sheriff, my boss, might propose an increase in the allotted number of correction officers - a proposal I support.
The recent election is over. Rather or not you or I agree with each victorious candidate isn't the point. We must now work together for the next four or even six years for some elected terms. We need good government. I wish the new slate of elected officials success as I do our community.
The reality of a new county jail being built before needed school construction seems unrealistic to me. However, discussion should occur. Certain actions could be administered immediately to assist correction officers. The turnover at the jail is high due to stress, working environment and lower wages than some local patrol opportunities. More inmates are coming to the jail with health issues that require outside medical attention; therefore, requiring increased officer levels. Mental health confinement requests continue to rise. Those transports are carried out by correction officers.
The sheriff's proposal, as I understand it, increases the pay and number of correction officers. I hope officers having served five, 10 and 15 plus years will see deserved pay increases. Currently, they are paid the same as an entry level officer. I'm unaware if this is in the sheriff's plan but I would hope it be included.
The sheriff has asked the County Commission to help patch the holes in this leaking ship. Due to the fact a new ship is out of the question for the time being. I encourage the County Commission to attempt to meet the sheriff's proposal in allowance of the county budget. This would assist correction officers, whom honorably serve our community around the clock.