County still seeking jail administrator candidates

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Almost 90 days since Sheriff Matt Murray took command and nine months since the search for a new administrator began, the county is no closer to finding a candidate to run its controversial jail.

And a question now emerging is whether the sheriff should permanently run the jail.

Saturday, the CNJ obtained copies of a proposal the sheriff said he was asked to submit to show what he needs to run the jail.

County Manager Lance Pyle said commissioners will ultimately decide who operates the jail.

In the meantime, Pyle said he is continuing with the hiring process. Pyle said he is hoping to have an administrator and command staff in place by June. Pyle said he wants the jail ready to begin a new accreditation process that kicks off in July.

The first week in May, Pyle said he had narrowed the list of candidates to five finalists and would be conducting interviews within days.

Friday, Pyle said all those interviews were canceled.

“We got some information on the accreditation program we wanted to get, so those interviews were canceled,” he said.

Some of the candidates have either taken other positions, he said, or lost interest.

Pyle said he did not know how many candidates remain interested out of the five, but added, “We do have some good applicants and I got another application in (Thursday).”

“When we’re looking for these positions that we have to fill, we want to make sure that the individuals who are selected will work toward accreditation,” Pyle said.

There are 16 positions open at the jail — administrator, assistant administrator, a lieutenant, two captains, two sergeants, six detention officers and three booking specialists — though Pyle said an offer was to be made Friday for one of the captain’s positions.

The administrator position has been vacant since Pyle fired Lois Bean in September, saying she had not made changes he had ordered.

Bean has since field a lawsuit against the county citing discrimination, a hostile work environment and being hired under false pretenses.

The sheriff stepped in and took command when former Interim Administrator Carlos Ortiz and several members of his command staff walked off the job Feb. 21 after four inmates attempted to escape and caused about $15,000 damage to the facility.

Pyle said Murray is required by statute to continue to manage the facility, and, “If the commission doesn’t hire an administrator, then based on statute, the sheriff will continue management of the jail.”