Thankfully, the siege has let up and both groups are on the mend.
The wintry mix of cold, water and ice always presents problems for law enforcement. There are more fender benders, more special equipment and bulky clothes for our folks. During very harsh weather, it is even difficult for folks going to and coming from work. The whole facility is taxed during extreme weather conditions.
Operating the jail is similar to running a hospital or large nursing home facility. The residents must be fed, kept comfortable and kept safe 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is like a little, isolated town that must keep functioning every hour of the day or it will quickly become dilapidated and dysfunctional. There is a need for a lot of electrical power and human power as well.
All the working parts come together and we get the job done. That takes a whole lot of commitment by our Corrections people.
During the extreme weather in coming months, almost all of our people are subject to be called in. Maintenance might be called to solve a problem in building maintenance or to make repairs. Some clerical help may be called in to help in some major accident or crisis.
Our people in the garage may have to be called to use their wrecker to pull a patrol car that is stuck or haul in a broken down vehicle. They may be called in to change to snow tires for the whole fleet when an unexpected snowstorm begins to blow in.
All of our people, whether they are law enforcement, Corrections, office, auto or building maintenance, are very important to the operation of your Sheriff’s Office. The more knowledgeable and the more experienced these individuals are, the better our community is served.
Those who have proven their value to the taxpayer are encouraged to spend their career at the BCSO.
I have mentioned before our fleet maintenance garage and the wide range of services staffers are called on to perform every day. Most of our repair needs are met in-house, because of the expertise of our people. From time to time, we have trustees serving a jail sentence who are good craftsmen. We are able to save a lot of money because of these talented people.
I am sometimes asked why we do not use prisoners to do more “chain gang” type road work. Usually the startup costs alone are prohibitive. Buses, restroom facilities, food services and all kinds of equipment and tools must be bought and maintained. More personnel have to be hired and trained and maintained. A safe, secure environment must be maintained.
Some may remember that several decades ago we had a prisoner killed by another prisoner as they worked on one of these outside details. Of course, any time you broaden the scope of responsibilities, you take on a whole lot of liability for the county. Again, when we fail in our responsibility to provide good, safe law enforcement services, the county can be liable as well.
People come up with some good ideas about how to handle prisoners, but when you look at the costs of these programs to the taxpayer, they are not so practical after all.
We at the Sheriff’s Office are just like our families in the community: We wage a daily battle to make our budget work. We must balance all of the changing budget variables and still maintain the high level of service our community has come to expect. We have to do what the singer, Tiny Tim said: “Tiptoe, through the tulips ...”
Thanks for reading.