By Alex Bridges - firstname.lastname@example.org
Staffing the area's next regional jail likely could affect local sheriffs' offices when the facility in Warren County opens as scheduled in 2014. So Shenandoah County plans to find out sooner than later the staffing situation at its sheriff's office.
Consulting firms recently submitted bids to conduct a study of staffing at both the sheriff's office and the county's 911 Emergency Communications Center. County Administrator Douglas Walker said earlier this week that officials are reviewing the bids. Supervisors and county officials broached the subject of a study during discussions this past spring about the fiscal 2013 budget, according to Walker.
Sheriff Timothy C. Carter noted in an email that he made an initial request to the county to study his office's patrol allocation. The county expanded the scope of the study to look at staffing on most levels involving sworn officers. Likewise, Carter stated he understood the study also would look at staffing issues related to transportation and lock-up of prisoners as a result of the county's inclusion into the regional jail.
"The jail staff positions, currently assigned to the local jail, will 'go away' or not be a part of my contingent of officers at the time the regional jail is opened," Carter stated.
The advertised request for proposals explains that the sheriff's office has 21 officers assigned to the local jail.
"The purpose of this study is to provide a responsible, comprehensive evaluation of the staffing of the Sheriff's Office and the 911 Emergency Communications Center using contemporary methodology, including workload data, within the context of pro-active policing services and modern technology," the request for proposals states. "While a comprehensive evaluation is desired, the County may find it useful to prioritize the study in order to focus on priority service functions. At this point, priority service functions include adult detention, emergency communication, court security, and transportation. Other priority service functions may include patrol, animal control, and civil process."
The county advised firms responding to the request that adult detention responsibilities would transfer from the sheriff's office to the regional jail authority once the new facility opens after its completion, which is set for July 1, 2014.
"One transition issue most relevant to this study involves the disposition of individuals that are arrested within the County or one of the towns and the identification of options for the temporary holding and/or transportation of such individuals in order to minimize negative impacts on law enforcement within the County and the towns," the request states.
The request for proposal notes the contractor should begin work immediately following the awarding of the contract. The document states the contractor should expect to complete the study and make several presentations to county officials by Feb. 1.
The sheriff's office consists of 70 full-time sworn positions, excluding the sheriff, with vacancies. Staffing includes 21 patrol deputies, two animal control officers, 21 jail deputies and five deputies handling security for the Shenandoah County courts. Remaining full-time positions include a chief deputy, division chiefs, DARE/school resource officers and investigators. The sheriff's office supplements staffing with part-time sworn positions in the areas of civil process, court security and transportation.
The county's 911 Emergency Communications Center staff consists of a communications section chief, a computer-aided dispatch technician, four communication supervisors, four lead communications officers and four communications officers.