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Sheriff’s Department reviews staffing at Commissioner's meeting

Fri, Nov 29th, 2002
Posted in Features

"How are our deputies set up?" asked Chairman Bakke as Sheriff Jim Connolly prepared to give his report to the Fillmore County Board on Tuesday. Connolly said the press has interviewed him many times over the years and has given good coverage about his department’s makeup -- how many employees, job descriptions, hours, etc. Still, not enough of the public is digesting the information.

So, pay attention taxpayers and see what your law enforcement services cover. Let’s put to rest the question, " Where are our Sheriff’s deputies and what do they do?"

First off, the department is responsible for the approximately 900 square miles of territory throughout Fillmore County - 365 days, 24 hours a day with the summer months being the most congested due to community celebrations. Last year the Sheriff’s Dept put in 1,000 hours overtime and the jail ran between 400-500 hours of over time. This is done on a budget of $752,000 for the Sheriff’s Department and another $756,000 for the county’s jail.

Sheriff Connolly started to list off the titles and job descriptions of the deputies, telling the Board to "make a cheat sheet" because he guaranteed the Commissioners they’d be asked again, and again and . . .

Sheriff’s Department Staff

• Chief Deputy: sheriff’s right-hand man, aids in overseeing fellow employees.

• Captain: deals with major felonies, child abuse, social services and works with the county attorney.

• Lieutenant: civil division, processing papers tied in with judgement executions, sheriff’s sales, foreclosures, warrants, etc.

• Sargeant Investigator: works with misdemeanors, burglaries, criminal damage, evidence chain and follow-ups on cases.

• D.A.R.E. Liaison: works with school districts implementing the D.A.R.E. program. (Root River Education put in $10,000 for this).

•Narcotics Investigator: speaks for itself. The Drug Task Force funds the schooling and vehicle. Yearly salary paid by county.

• Night Sargeant: takes care of scheduling for deputies and other night duites.

• Four Patrol Deputies: 90% of the weekends and night shifts, 365 days a year.

• Four Part Time Deputies: cover vacationing deputies and aid with community celebrations.

• Contracted Help: Three deputies in Spring Valley with an 18-hour, seven-day a week service. Three deputies for Harmony, Mabel, & Canton with a 16-hour, seven-day a week service. These individuals also assist ambulance and fire calls.

The County Jail Staff:

•Chief Dispatcher

•Jail Administrator

•Four dispatchers

•Four Jailers

•Two Clerical personnel

• One maintenance person who cares for the facility as well as patrol cars.

There are literally thousands of calls answered by the dispatch each year, hence, the importance of efficient, up-to-date equipment. Sheriff Connolly requested approval to purchase a Motorolla Base Station at a cost of $27,562.90. The purchase would replace existing equipment that is well past its life expectancy of 15 years and deteriorating in quality service.

"If this system goes down, we don’t have any system," stated Connolly regarding the 911 system. The board winced at the request, as the money wasn’t budgeted in the Sheriff’s books.

"We need to start budgeting infrastructure (operating) costs," replied the Sheriff to the board’s questions about the money. About 60% could be obtained from the 911 funds, but that leaves the county with $11,000 to put up.

"If it’s so important it’s in the budget, that’s what other departments have done," noted Bakke.

"I see the need (for the base), but I also agree with Duane," sided Commissioner Randy Dahl. In the end, it was voted to purchase the equipment with the county’s share coming from the general building fund.

Room and Board

Sheriff Connolly passed out a handout that covered proposed charges for programs and services at the jail effective Jan. 1, 2003. Convicted offenders would be required to pay for a portion of the cost incurred during their stay in the facility at the rate of $20/day, for any full or part of a day in the custody of the Sheriff’s office. Per Diem rates charged for inmates being housed from another county would pay $75.00 up from $65.00. Work release fees would go from $15.00 to $20. Person serving weekend sentences would go from $45.00 to $60.00 per day.

Minimum Security Facility

Connolly also asked the board to consider building a facility for the work-release inmates whose housing doesn’t require as tight security - nor as expensive. Ballpark figure for such a building is $250,000. This would aid in the overcrowding of the jail for more serious offenders and could possibly produce additional income if county housed work-release inmates from other counties when Fillmore had vacancies.

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