DOC determines new jail inadequately staffed

The Department of Corrections (DOC) has given a failed compliance report to the Hubbard County Law Enforcement Center, primarily for inadequate staffing.

The Department of Corrections (DOC) has given a failed compliance report to the Hubbard County Law Enforcement Center, primarily for inadequate staffing.

The sheriff's office broke the news at the county commissioners' meeting Wednesday.

The county failed to comply with four of 115 mandatory rules. DOC requires 100 percent compliance on mandatory provisions for a passing grade.

According to sheriff Gary Mills, senior detention facility inspector Diane Grinde ruled the county could not count dispatchers as jail staff. Consequently, DOC listed the staffing at 90 percent of operational capacity.

Other mandatory rule failures included failures to conduct quarterly emergency reviews, health inspections or provide classification papers in the files of inmates.


In the report comments, Grinde wrote, "The facility is not fully staffed. The jail has three posts - control, housing and booking, which need to be filled 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"It appears they also need a person during the weekday to assist with court transports and to fill in shifts," she continued.

Grinde mandated the sheriff's office hire another six people to fully staff the jail, but allowed the jail to remain open on conditional biennial status.

Jail administrator Sherri Klasen suggested the county could hire some of the required personnel in clerical positions.

"There is some filing and other things like that that do take a lot of my time, and if we had a clerical assistant, they could do it," Klasen said.

Commissioner Dick Devine said he was upset about the ruling. He indicated the previous inspector gave approval for properly certified dispatchers to count as jailers.

"The whole thing of her walking in here and stomping all over the advice we got from the other guy irritates me a lot. My question is, do we let her call all the shots, or do we get someone neutral that we can talk to?

"Other people can walk in and give us a definitive idea of how to run our jail, and a new person walks in, and the prior person, everything they told us becomes moot. I cannot believe what has happened here," said Devine.


Mills requested the board hold a work session to discuss compliance issues further.

"I think this is a fairly big issue, and I think this is going to take a lot of consideration and a lot of reviewing. There are a lot of questions," Mills said.

"We are running out of time this morning," agreed chairman Cal Johannsen.

"How are going to deal with it at a work session, Cal, when you don't know what you're working on? We're going on what she said, and I'm not willing to accept that," Devine said.

Johannsen said the commissioners could use the work session to go over the report and formulate a response.

Commissioners scheduled the work session for 10 a.m. July 25.

In other sheriff's office action, commissioners:

??Created a committee to oversee the transition to an 800 MHz frequency emergency channel and appointed Johannsen to serve.


Congress is requiring all emergency facilities to convert to a universal digital communication signal by 2011.

"Everybody seems to want to go their own direction on compliance," said Mills.

According to Mills, the Park Rapids Fire Department is seeking money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to acquire funds for universal channel equipment.

Mills added he thinks the state may supply funding for a larger portion of the communication towers than originally allocated. He estimated the county would need five or six towers for total coverage.

"We're working hard, and I think we've got it covered. I really do. But we might need to make decisions in a short period of time," Mills said.

??Authorized the sheriff's office to hire Michael Johnson as a transport and civil process officer.

Mills said Johnson will return to the force after spending time in the private sector.

Commissioners voted to move Johnson to step three of the pay scale after the 90-day probationary period. Johnson left at step five.


??Learned of two new hires for jailer/dispatchers. The sheriff's office hired Dean Engen and Robert Meeks to fill the vacant positions.

??Adopted a resolution in support of a grant application for additional federal boat and water funds.

Mills said the program will seek $8,000 for a new boat motor, three laptop computers and a global positioning system.

??Approved the final building payment of $25,000 to Law Enforcement Center construction contractors Meinecke-Johnson.

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