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Jail projections

Melanie Wong
Vail CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” While county officials look for ways to fund the expansion of the jail and Sheriff’s Office, more costs are coming up after consultants recommended technology upgrades and more employees for the department.

The study was a comprehensive view of Sheriff’s Office operations, including how many hours were worked, what areas of the county were busiest, what crimes were most prevalent, and where the agency was lacking in services.

Lafayette-based Voorhis Associates, Inc., recommended switching around staff to put officers in busier areas at busier times, upgrading security, and hiring more employees, especially in the jail.

Consultant Gail Elias said the Sheriff’s Office is very efficient in their scheduling, but said they needed to monitor their training time, which is taking officers from their normal duties.

The Sheriff’s Office could also be more efficient by upgrading some technology, she said ” for example, the administration department could save time by going to an electronic reporting system, and upgraded security systems could save the need for additional security officers in the jail and courtrooms.

Meeting the standard?

Right now the jail is nine employees short of the people needed to run it up to national standards, and another three will be needed to run the expanded jail.

That gap in employees is resulting in overtime, which the Sheriff’s Office was asked to cut down on earlier this year, Elias said.

Sheriff Joe Hoy and jail administrator Bill Kaufman admitted the jail is short officers ” for example, there aren’t enough officers to have someone stationed on the second floor of the jail, Kaufman said.

“We have been extremely lucky that we have not had any injuries, mostly self-inflicted,” he said. “If a family were to sue us, the judge would be looking at the standards and saying, ‘Where are the second-floor posts?’ Well, we don’t have one.”

The study also looked at response times for 911 calls ” the average time was 20 minutes, a time that Sheriff’s and county officials said they did not find acceptable.

The problem is that routes north or south off the Interstate 70 corridor are roundabout and take significant time to reach, said Lt. Kim Andree.

“Is that acceptable? Is that an OK level of service?” she asked.


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