Sheriff George T. Maier said he and jail administrator, Maj. Brian Arnold, made the decision Tuesday to open a 50-bed cell block to house the jail’s trusties, which are inmates with privileges who help clean and maintain the jail.
On the day that Stark County commissioners pledged to give Sheriff George T. Maier enough money to hire 45 new employees, the new sheriff reopened another section of the Stark County jail.
Maier, who took office Feb. 8, said by shifting existing jail staff, he reopened a 50-bed cell block Wednesday that will house the jail’s trusties, which are inmates with privileges who help clean and maintain the jail.
The additional bed space brings the jail’s holding capacity up to 450 inmates, and the county a step closer to fulfilling the promise elected officials made to voters in 2011 that they would fully reopen the jail if voters approved a half-percent sales tax increase. The jail can hold up to 501 inmates.
On Wednesday, county commissioners and Maier addressed residents from the Vassar Park neighborhood in Canton who questioned why the county hadn’t yet fulfilled its sales tax promise, now eight months after it began collecting the tax’s proceeds.
Commissioner Thomas Bernabei said the three-member board has done its part by setting aside enough money for the sheriff to hire the employees necessary to staff the jail. This year, commissioners plan to set aside $17.9 million for the sheriff’s office, an amount 9 percent higher than what the office spent before it closed sections of the jail in 2010.
Maier, who hopes to have all 45 employees hired by October, told the residents that he has changed the office’s recruiting and hiring strategies to avoid the problems his predecessors faced in finding qualified candidates. He said the office now is seeking to hire corrections officers instead of sheriff deputies to guard inmates in the jail.
Maier believes that hiring corrections officers, who typically earn nearly $2,000 less than deputies, is a better use of resources, and said that some recruits who want to be law enforcement officers won’t consider the sheriff’s office because they don’t want to work at the jail, which is where the sheriff has traditionally started all deputies. Former Sheriff Timothy Swanson had preferred hiring deputies because corrections officers cannot be used to patrol the road, whereas deputies can work in the jail and on the road.
Maier said the sheriff’s office also is creating a promotional brochure that will be distributed to military veterans groups, educational institutions and employment service organizations. It also has developed an informal survey to determine why nearly half of candidates invited to take the office’s entrance exam never showed up to take the test.
Another entrance exam is scheduled for next week.
Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @kyoungREP
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