Extra overtime for guards at jail is unsafe, guild says
The guild that represents King County Jail guards says too much overtime is creating unsafe working conditions for the officers. The King County Corrections...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The guild that represents King County Jail guards says too much overtime is creating unsafe working conditions for the officers.
The King County Corrections Guild has filed a complaint with the state's Department of Labor and Industries, claiming the mandatory-overtime policy for officers is becoming a big problem.
Some officers at the county's two jails are required to work two back-to-back shifts, or 16 hours in a row, because of guard shortages, Doug Justus, the guild's president, said in a statement.
Justus calls the policy "no way to run our jails."
Based on the county's current budget for corrections officers, it is still 15 to 19 officers short. Compensating for those vacancies has sent three officers to the hospital for exhaustion, Justus claimed.
Maj. Willie Hayes, a spokesman for King County correctional facilities, said that under the current policy, officers must be able to work a double shift every 10 days.
Because of staffing problems, officers sometimes have to work more than one 16-hour stretch in a 10-day period, he said.
In his budget proposal for 2008, King County Executive Ron Sims advocates creating 32 jail-guard positions.
The guild supports that move but says training the officers could take months.
Corrections officers in the county are paid $19.60 to $28.24 an hour, but recruiting has been very difficult, Hayes said.
"Law enforcement as a whole is having a hard time filling positions, not just corrections," said Hayes.
The county authorized spending more than $6 million on correction officers' overtime in 2007, Hayes said.
Christina Siderius: firstname.lastname@example.org
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