Corrections officers may get an early Christmas gift from Pima County

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 6:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Just before Christmas, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will vote on a pay package for the county’s corrections officers which would give them a 7.5% pay hike, making them the highest paid corrections officers in the state.

“So be it,” said District 4 Supervisor, Republican Steve Christy. “Whatever it takes.”

Pima County has more than 1,800 inmates in the jail now but has 170 fewer corrections officers than it had in 2016 with the same number of inmates.

Keeping and retaining them has become a difficult job.

“Being a corrections officer is the most difficult and dangerous and literally unpleasant position to have in law enforcement,” Christy said as he defended the pay raises.

“I think it is an essential step to make sure we are able to keep and bring in new corrections officers,” he said “We’re terribly understaffed, dangerously understaffed.”

In a presentation to the supervisors on Tuesday, Nanos made his case for more officers.

“I can have one corrections officer watch 40 people at one time,” Nanos told the board, which is several times higher than the national average. “I have a responsibility to my staff, my inmates and my community to keep them safe and it’s not safe.”

Under the proposal which will need board approval, the rate of pay for corrections officers would rise to more than $26 an hour, or more than $54,000 a year.

For corrections sergeants, the pay would increase to $33 dollars an hour and to $69,000 a year.

Right now because of the shortage of personnel, overtime has become an issue with many of them being required to work 16 hour shifts with no time for family or for valuable sleep.

“We had reports of individuals falling asleep on duty, that’s just unacceptable,” Nanos said. “You’re getting four of five hours of sleep and we know mistakes are going to be made, the erroneous releases that’s we’ve seen, these are deadly mistakes.”

Mistakes which may be much less common with more people working fewer hours.

The board will make its decision Dec. 20