Panel OKs filling jail guard vacancies

Devlin

 Otsego County and its Sheriff’s Department apparently resolved a recent standoff over jail staffing at an Administration Committee meeting Thursday, Jan. 22.

All committee members present voted to fund and advertise for four open corrections officer positions.

Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. presented to the committee a petition with about 900 signatures urging the county officials to fill the vacant funded positions for the safety of the county residents.

Devlin said several positions have come vacant because of increases in required overtime hours. He said filling the vacant positions will eliminate about 60% of the overtime problems, eventually, once new hires get trained. He said the county could see the savings by summer and he will continue to update the board on the overtime hours once a change is seen.

“It will be really interesting to see the impact,” said Rep. Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, who chairs the committee.

Rep. Ed Frazier Jr., R-Unadilla, said the Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee will also look at the reports. Frazier said the board should understand there will always be some overtime.

“But if it is 57% less then we are moving in the right direction,” Kennedy said.

The motion passed the PSLA Committee on Thursday, Jan. 14.

“I thank you for your support and the corrections officers will certainly be pleased with this outcome,” Devlin said.

Personnel Director Penney Gentile said there is already a list with eligible candidates, so the sheriff can begin staffing as soon as the full county Board of Representatives approves the hirings.

There was a special board meeting at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26. The next regular board meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3.

Devlin said the county is still boarding out 11 inmates, including all of its female prisoners. He said coronavirus has limited capacity and the county’s female wing has been temporarily shut down.

Rep. Daniel Wilber, R-Burlington, Edmeston, Exeter, Plainfield, was not at the meeting.

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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