Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office hiring private security officers to help with staffing shortages at jail

The cost associated is $400,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year.
State inspectors say the jail has 60 days to comply with recommendations
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 12:32 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office is hiring private security officers to help with a critically low staffing situation at the Mecklenburg jail.

The sheriff’s office has entered a contract with Strategic Security Corp to provide 27 security officers to work in four locations (Courthouse, MCDC-Central lobby, MCSO Headquarters and MCSO Admin Services).

The cost associated is $400,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Related: State inspector sets deadline, Sheriff McFadden says changes to detention center started in December

Garry McFadden addressed the public Friday after state inspectors set a deadline for the sheriff to fix problems at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.

State inspectors say the jail has 60 days to comply with recommendations after a bi-annual inspection and complaint filed about safety conditions and staffing issues at the detention center.

Related: N.C. inspectors give Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office a deadline to fix deficient jail conditions

The sheriff says they’re already ahead of making changes and planned to address the media before the report and deadline came out last Thursday from state inspectors.

“Meck County jail is a safe place.” That’s the message from Sheriff Garry McFadden during a press conference on Friday.

This after staff assaults, a complaint, and an investigations last year.

“This really wasn’t even taken seriously until the curtain was drawn back when this began to be exposed. So you know, why should have taken a 400% increase in assaults for the sheriff to take preventive measures to put something in place or to ask for help months ago,” Daniel Redford, Vice President of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 said.

Related: N.C. inspectors: Depopulation needed due to critically low staffing levels in ‘unsafe’ Mecklenburg jail

“So we made a couple adjustments in December of 2021. And one of those adjustments were that we created a team of 16 men who go out through the facility making sure that the facility is safe and making sure that we receive any information from either the residents which is commonly calls inmates or the staff about contraband and weapons,” Sheriff McFadden said.

Since that time, the detention center has a new overtime policy to ensure adequate staffing inside the jail, and officers are no longer working extended hours, and the jail has relocated nearly 190 inmates since December.

During that time, the sheriff said he contacted 99 sheriffs across the state for help relocating inmates but only five responded with help.

In the last 24 hours ahead of the press conference Friday, the sheriff said 104 people had been released and 79 people booked into the detention center.

The sheriff added it doesn’t have a depopulation number from the state, but it will reduce the jail population to maintain safety because of staff shortages.

McFadden released data Friday showing there are 157 vacancies at the detention center, and it can have a maximum staff of 460 people.

Related: Mecklenburg County District Attorney responds to concerns at Mecklenburg County Jail

“We’re glad that there are some steps being taken and that yes, we do see that there has been a significant drop, especially in the violent related attacks against staff and residents. But it really becomes too little too late because this should have been done months ago,” said Redford.

The sheriff said the issues at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center are happening across the state and nation.

“We’re not unique when it comes to shortage, when it comes to assaults, when it comes to depopulating the jail,” said Sheriff McFadden.

As for next steps, the Fraternal Order Police tell WBTV it wants to see assaults on detention officer stay down, not see staff leave in large numbers, the state’s recommendations taken into effect, and for leaders to address future problems head on when they happen.

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