By Matt Joski/Kewaunee County Sheriff
As we continue our work relative to Phase Two of the Public Safety Building Study, I would like to provide an update of the work which has been done, and what remains to be accomplished. Just to provide a review of the three phases and the goal of each of those phases, I will give a quick summary.
Phase One was a review of our current environment including facilities, staffing and operations. It also resulted in various options to be considered in the next phase. Phase Two focuses primarily on programming along with space needs and requirements which take into consideration the various options created in Phase One. It is also our work in this phase to arrive at the most effective and efficient option from both a capital as well as operational cost perspective. Phase Three gets us to the actual designs and operational implementations. So back to Phase Two which is where we are currently. In December I reported out that we have reviewed the various options which came out of Phase One and that due to the limitations of the current site both from a perspective of efficient operations as well as future growth, the most reasonable option is to look at an open green space as the primary location.
Even before arriving at this option we also looked at an option which eliminates a local jail all together. While this option may show some short-term cost savings, it falls short from many other perspectives. The primary downfall of this option is that is places our community in a perpetual state of dependency on another county. Regardless of any contract language, it would ultimately be up to the host agency to terminate the agreement either when our inmates become a burden or when the eventual capacity of their facility reaches a point where we would be directed to vacate our inmates. It is also important to note that even if we contracted out our inmate population we would still have staffing costs due to the operation of our Public Safety Communications Center as well as the need for more transport staffing.
Another serious consideration is the lack of options when it comes to Huber or work release inmates. As I have stated many times, these individuals regardless of the decisions which placed them in our care are still members of our community. The option of housing in a distant facility would have a devastating impact on potential or continued employment and rehabilitation services for those individuals, which in turn place additional strain on their families and support systems. Another important impact specifically to daily law enforcement operations would be the requirement to transport any and all fresh arrests to another county for bookings. This would in turn require additional staff to back fill the shift while that Officer or Deputy is out of the county for these bookings. In summary, while there may be costs savings to be realized by contracting out local government services to another county, our Corrections and Emergency Communications operations are most likely not prime candidates.
Aside from the initial and ongoing facility costs that we are reviewing and working to refine, we are also reviewing the staffing implications. While we are always looking to maintain the absolute minimum in staffing, our largest hurdle is that due to our historical Jailer/Dispatcher configuration, any recommended staffing level where these duties are separated results in a substantial staffing increase. We will continue to work with our consultant along with our State Jail Inspector to find any and all efficiencies in all areas of this project both from a facility as well as from a staffing perspective. Our next planning meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 12) at the Human Services Training Room. I will try to provide an update following that meeting.
I would like to thank all of the members of our Public Safety Building Study Committee for all of the time they have invested in this process thus far. If anyone from the community has any questions regarding our work, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would greatly enjoy the visit! I can always be reached at 920-388-7177.