Detention officers get shift change

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Plagued with staffing issues, the Curry County Adult Detention Center is switching to longer but less frequent works shifts at the request of detention center officers.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said he recently approved a petition request by detention officers to switch from 10 eight-hour shifts in a two-week period to seven 12-hour shifts.

Pyle said detention center employees have been working a lot of overtime and view the schedule change as an opportunity for more personal time.

“They’re working long hours and they’re tired and they want to be home with their families,” Pyle said.

Since July 2007, the detention center has paid out more than $130,500 in overtime pay to cover shift shortages, Pyle said. The allotted budget is $60,000.

Pyle said the empty position’s salaries are paying the overtime costs until slots can be filled.

The detention center is short six officers from a budgeted staff of 31, a number which will grow to eight July 1 when the county budget authorizes two more positions, according to Chief Deputy Warden Audrey Barriga.

Less than a year ago the administration went to eight-hour shifts thinking they would be easier to fill, but the staff has shown they prefer longer shifts, she said.

In spite of the staff shortages and long hours, Pyle said he has seen a team mentality and strong, positive dedication emerge from the officers at the facility.

“(The CCADC) has great employees. They’re being called in on their day off when they want to be with their families (but) I think their morale is much better than it has been in previous years,” he said.

All but one officer signed the petition, he said.

Filling corrections positions has become increasingly difficult for facilities both in the state and nationwide, Barriga said.

By the numbers:

$11.07 — Entry level detention officers starting pay
181 — Inmates at CADC as of May 2.
25 — Detention officers, there are 6 open positions