ALFRED — The hiring of a dozen new corrections officers, as well as an agreement to provisionally hire two more, means most current vacancies at the York County Jail will soon be filled.

The jail has been operating under a staffing emergency for some time, due to the number of vacant positions, and also due to some employees out on family or medical leave or serving in the armed forces. That has meant current staff members have been required, at times, to work as much as 40 overtime hours per week, on top of a regular 40-hour workweek.

Corrections workers have routinely been working 16-hour shifts, and Chief Deputy Bill King, who will become York County sheriff on Jan. 1, told county commissioners Wednesday that the long hours are taking their toll. He said workers are experiencing family issues because of them.

King plans to start training new corrections officers Jan. 5. He asked for two provisional slots because the next opportunity for county commissioners to approve hiring is at the first meeting of the year, set for Jan. 7. He said he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to put one or two more officers through training, and that a hiring offer would be made once the potential candidates pass all required tests and interviews and receive commissioner approval.

Commissioners said that is fine, as long as they have the last say in hiring.

While there have been staffing emergencies that resulted in mandatory overtime periodically throughout this year, the latest was called in October, when there were 21 vacancies, along with five workers out on family leave and one away in the military. In November, about half a dozen officers were hired.

Officers undergo a four-week training program, which includes a two-week job shadow with another officer before they’re allowed to go out on the floor alone.

King, in a November interview, pointed out that the entry-level pay for a corrections officer is $16.80 per hour, with shift differentials.

“This is a good job,” he said of corrections work.

National Corrections Employees Union Executive Director Christopher Murphy said in November that morale among officers inside the jail was at an all-time low.

The new hires mean staffing is essentially where it should be, at least for now, said County Manager Greg Zinser. But he pointed out that could change ”“ workers leave because of the amount of required overtime or go on to other jobs.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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