Photo by John F. Russell
Detention officer Aaron Murphy looks through some paperwork inside the booking department at the Routt County Jail. The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to hire a consultant to evaluate the staffing levels and procedures at the jail.
Steamboat Springs Consultant John Milosovich said to improve a jail's operating efficiency, perhaps the most important thing to change is an attitude often passed from shift to shift and year to year.
The attitude of "that's just how we do things."
Milosovich, a consultant with Voorhis Associates, of Lafayette, will soon bring that ready-for-change ethic to the Routt County Jail. The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to accept a bid from Voorhis Associates for a $10,000 audit of the staffing and procedures of the jail. By examining its operations and policies, Milosovich said he hopes to make the jail more efficient.
He'll see a familiar philosophy right away.
When Milosovich enters the facility, he'll be greeted by a sign in the Routt County Jail's booking area warning against stodgy, entrenched behavior.
"You hear the old adage all the time, 'It's the way we always did things,' and we question those issues," he said. "How they do it may be superior to anything we've seen, (but) it might be just the way they've always done it, and it's passed on from shift to shift."
The audit is an effort to address the demands of the jail staff.
"The detention center has been understaffed, off and on, for years, and people move on to new positions," Routt County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Sue Gaskins said. "We never seem to be able to hire back the number of people that we need, and that's what brings us to the level of being understaffed and puts people at risk for safety and security and everything else."
Gaskins said it creates an extra strain any time one of the deputies is out of the office for training or vacation.
Milosovich said he has experience working as a jail administrator and as an employee of county commissioners, though not in Routt County. The needs of the sheriff's office and the commissioners often pull in different directions, he said.
"County commissioners, they have to balance the needs of the entire county, and the sheriff has to balance needs within his department between the jail and law enforcement, jail and dispatch, or jail and civil process," Milosovich said.
Even so, Milosovich said, his office is not called when jails are overstaffed. His expertise is determining the staffing levels required and other ways of meeting the demands of running the center.
"What happens in jails, and a lot of operations, is they grow incrementally and gradually : and you don't really feel the problem until it becomes pretty dramatic," he said.
Milosovich said he will personally conduct the analysis of the Routt County Jail, a process that likely will take three to five days of observation at the jail in addition to poring over jail records and policies.