Jail administrator requests raise, concealed weapons permit with contract renewal

Sharna Johnson

With his contract set for automatic renewal, jail Administrator Keith Norwood is asking the county commission for a $1,500 raise, a concealed weapons permit and a CPR trainers class.

Commissioners are expected to vote on his requests Thursday, which are part of the consent agenda.

The consent agenda contains multiple items voted on in mass without discussion by commissioners.

According to a memo sent from County Manager Lance Pyle to commissioners Jan. 6, Norwood’s contract with the county was set for automatic renewal Dec. 31 and was discussed in executive session Dec. 7.

“As you are aware, Mr. Norwood requested the following be added to his contract: 1) 1.5 percent pay raise for all detention center staff 2) $1,500 pay raise for himself 3) County pay for his CPR/First Aid Certified Instructors Training Course 4) County to pay for his concealed weapons permit,” the memo said.

In the memo, Pyle reminds commissioners they gave a county-wide pay increase Dec. 21, satisfying Norwood’s request for staff raises, and asks commissioners to approve the other three requests.

Attached to the memo for commissioners was a series of e-mails exchanged between Pyle and Norwood wherein Norwood submitted his requests to Pyle between Dec. 1 and Monday.

Norwood said his request for the permit isn’t motivated by a particular incident, but rather a general desire to be prepared.

“In this career, I think it’s warranted for my own protection (but) it’s going to be up to the commissioners if they approve it or if they don’t,” he said.

“I just want to be prepared just in case something does happen. God forbid something does arise, I want to operate within the confines of the law.”

Pyle said Tuesday he presented Norwood’s requests to the commission during the Dec. 7 executive session and also talked with commissioners regarding Norwood’s contract, evaluation and goals and objectives that have been set for him to achieve in the next six months.

In accordance with county policy regarding carrying of firearms, if Norwood obtains a permit he would be prohibited from carrying a weapon into the jail or on county property, Pyle said.

Jail policy also requires certified law enforcement officers to secure their firearms in lock boxes prior to entering inmate populated areas, Pyle said.

Pyle said he is not aware of any other situations in which the county has paid for an employee to obtain a concealed carry permit.

According to the e-mails, the value of the weapons permit is $200 and the CPR course approximately $300.

Norwood was hired in June as an exempt employee at a salary of $79,800, to be reviewed for a performance-based increase after six months and considered for renewal in one year.

Norwood’s employment contract stipulated he had six months to bring the facility’s policies and procedures up to date and to develop an inmate classification system.

Pyle said several revised policies and procedures have already been approved the commission since Norwood started, and others are under review by the county attorney.

“He had a lot to address when he came in and he’s done a very good job making improvements in that short time,” he said.

Pyle said Norwood and his staff are also working toward accreditation and continually working to increase staff training programs.

Among other things, the contract also requires that he develop a staffing and plan, recruitment plan, overtime monitoring plan, implement educational programs for inmates, maintain staff training, ensure medical needs are being met, implement inmate work programs and correct security deficiencies.

He was also given a $1,000 relocation allowance, 30 days of lodging expenses while he relocated, a county vehicle, 75 percent payment for medical coverage and an annual $420 cell phone stipend, the contract states.

Norwood, who, as the county, has the option to withdraw from his contract, said, “I’m enjoying it, I’m in it for the long haul.”

“It’s been a challenge but I am pleased with the staff and I’m thankful for the progress we have made at the detention center. We’ve come a long ways; we’re not where we should be, but we’re working toward that goal.”

In other business, at the 9 a.m. meeting to be held in the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Library, commissioners are expected to:

• Discuss commission committee assignments.

• Consider a resolution banning open flame fires.

• Give notice of intent to introduce an ordinance regulating fire handling and open burning.

• Consider entering into a loan with the New Mexico Finance Authority for the purchase of four caterpillar motor graders.

• Consider a sexual misconduct policy for the juvenile detention center.

• Hear and consider approval of the county audit report for last fiscal year.