Jail officers to get pay incentives in upcoming budget year - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Jail officers to get pay incentives in upcoming budget year

Richland County officials plan to incorporate a new career ladder for jail officers, as well as hire a new mental health doctor in the upcoming fiscal year.

During a jail committee meeting Monday, Assistant County Administrator Sparty Hammett referenced a 2008 audit completed on the jail that said a career ladder is recommended for detention officers, to allow them to move up in rank while receiving incentives. Hammett said officers will start at an entry level position and advance a rank in two years. After serving as detention officer II, employees can then advance to detention officer III and become a field training officer.

"Currently, there is no pay incentive for officers to train," Hammett said. "This will allow us to recruit and retain better employees."

Councilman Seth Rose agreed and said implementing the career ladder will allow the county to compete for new employees alongside its neighboring counties.

"It is really needed. Some of our neighboring counties are paying more, so we are having a hard time retaining good employees, and also hiring good employees," Rose said, adding there will be no need for an extra allocation of funds to fulfill this employment plan.

Funds to allow for the career ladder are in the fiscal year 2014 budget. A contract position for a mental health doctor to be employed at the jail will also come following July 1.

The mental health doctor position will serve as a liaison between the jail and outside resources to remove the "revolving door" that comes when mental health individuals are released from jail and get involved in criminal activities again.

The county jail is in contract with a mental health doctor in Charleston, who works 12 hours a week. Staff reported Monday that he isn't interested in being on call 24 hours, seven days a week, so the jail is seeking to find a psychiatrist to fulfill this demand. This position will work in conjunction with the new mental health officer position the county seeks to hire. 

Hammett said the salary ranges for detention officers are not established yet.  

"We will have the consultant that did our compensation study develop the implementation plan and associated salary ranges," he said. "The mental health position will be through contract and not a Richland County position."

A new study will be completed this year to evaluate the jail from a management standpoint, which will examine whether the jail needs to be expanded. Richland County will advertise for bids from outside contractors to do the study, which is expected to last no more than six months.

"(The study) is going to go from top to bottom and be a very inclusive study that is going to then come back to tell us what we need to improve on, how the management of the facility is, and I think that's extremely important," Rose said.

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