By Matt Joski, Kewaunee County sheriff
As we continue down the path of planning for the eventual replacement of our current Safety Building — which houses not only the jail but also our emergency communications center and administrative spaces — I wanted to take some time to discuss a component of a project such as this that is many times overlooked or minimized.
While a great deal of the planning will be focused on the physical structure and the many needed facility improvements, the building itself does not represent the greatest investment. Rather, it will be the staff which is required to run the facility in a safe and effective manner.
We are very fortunate to have a professional consultant who will spend a great deal of time analyzing not only the staffing needs of a new environment but even more importantly analyzing our current staffing levels in our existing facility.
Although I have written articles in the past which have very briefly discussed our unique staffing model, I wanted to share where we are actually in regard to overall staffing at the Sheriff’s Department.
Recently I was having a discussion with a community member on this very subject and was surprised when that person told me that we have upward of 60 staff, or at least that is what the person had been told.
While I am confident that this number may have been interpreted due to the amazing work that our staff does, which makes it appear that we in fact have an army of deputies, the truth is quite different.
Overall at the Sheriff’s Department, we have 36 full-time and three part-time staff. Here’s the breakdown.
Staring at the top you have myself, my chief deputy and two lieutenants. We have two administrative assistants who process all reports, handle all civil process, and serve as the hub of our administrative team.
Of the two lieutenants, one oversees patrol, investigations and the school liaison, while the other supervises the jail, court security and communications division. We have two full-time investigators whose focus is major crime, while a third investigator is dedicated to narcotics investigations.
Directly under the two lieutenants, we have four sergeants. Two of the sergeants are in the Patrol Division and two are in the Jail/Communications Division.
In the Patrol Division we have 10 deputies. These deputies, along with the sergeants, provide law enforcement coverage for the county. Typical coverage consists of two deputies on any given shift. That’s right — we cover 400 square miles of county with two deputies.
The coverage in the jail is very similar with only two deputies per shift, as well as being tasked with inmate transports, Huber monitoring, and of course all emergency dispatching. Yes, you read that right — our jailers are also our dispatchers, and our dispatchers are our jailers.
If you are thinking this is unusual you would be absolutely correct. While this was common in 1968 when our current Safety Building was opened, this is not the norm, nor is it acceptable. We have been granted a sort of grandfathered status due to the limitations of our facility, but this will end, and with it comes the need to properly staff our jail and communications operations.
The standard for a facility of our size has been to have two dedicated jailers and two dedicated dispatchers. The two school liaison officers also come from the jail division and in the summer are assigned back into jail/dispatch to relieve the pressure on the schedule.
The three part-time employees are our cooks, who do a phenomenal job of meeting the dietary requirements set forth by the state for those housed in our care.
I hope that you can now see how vital it is that we spend a great deal of time looking at staffing levels so we can make the best possible use of our most valuable resource, which of course is our staff.
If anyone has any questions on this subject or any other related to our facility study, please do not hesitate to contact me. We are still giving tours of the current facility and those that have taken the time to walk through it have all remarked what an eye-opening experience it was. I can be reached at 920-255-1100. Thank you.
Photo: The reception area and 911 dispatch center at the Kewaunee County Jail. (Kewaunee County Comet file photo)