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Mecklenburg County Sheriff McFadden rolls out plan for increasing staff at the jail

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden told county commissioners Tuesday that his staff has not received a break since the pandemic started. He made the comment during his presentation addressing safety concerns and staffing shortages at the jail.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden
Logan Cyrus
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden

In a letter last month, state inspectors from the health department gave McFadden 60 days to correct problems related to staffing and violence. McFadden responded to the state saying the jail lost 40 positions last year and he’s working to hire more staff.

“We’re not robots," McFadden told commissioners. "We’re human, too. We get tired. We get burned out. One week I had five staff members to lose family members."

The sheriff rolled out details of a plan that addresses concerns made by the state.

“The MCSO staffing challenges are not unique as we see this challenge across the nation in the detention profession,” McFadden said in the letter to the state. “Local confinement facilities and prisons have always struggled to find and retain personnel; coupled with a pandemic and a nationwide labor shortage that has only exacerbated our struggles.”

The sheriff’s plan includes a new mandatory overtime policy, hiring bonuses, salaries starting at $52,500 and contracting with a private security firm to help with staffing.

McFadden is also working with the courts and other sheriff’s offices to reduce the jail’s population.

McFadden is an elected official who does not answer to county commissioners, although the board does provide the sheriff's office with funding.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.