Sheriff adds new corrections staff; opponent critical of jail management

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Dutchess County Jail. Photo credit: Google Maps

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County Sheriff Kirk Imperati expressed the need to hire more corrections officers for the current Dutchess County Jail, despite having seven new hires graduate from the training academy last week.  His Democratic opponent said management and low salaries are to blame for the manpower shortage.

The sheriff’s office is wasting taxpayer dollars by mismanaging overtime at the Dutchess County Jail, according to Hanlon. The retired Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office employee implied that proper management of the jail would allow budgeted overtime money to be used to hire new staff.

“Instead, Acting Sheriff Imperati continues to work existing staff to the bone,” Hanlon said.  “Between substandard pay, mandated overtime, a toxic work environment, and limited opportunities for advancement or personal or professional growth, it’s no surprise the jail struggles both to recruit and retain qualified officers.” Hanlon has established a tool that she says allows taxpayers to calculate staffing costs at the jail.  The calculator can be found here.

Imperati told Mid-Hudson News that manpower at the jail is needed and lawmakers are working with him to fund the positions. The veteran lawman also said that he is constantly asking staff for suggestions regarding scheduling to reduce overtime costs.  “We do continuous recruitment to hire full and part-time corrections officers,” Imperati said, adding “We have 50 vacancies and a limited pool of candidates to choose from. The last civil service exam for corrections had just 75 people pass the exam to become eligible for hire. There will likely be another exam scheduled for later this year. 

Imperati rebuked Hanlon’s claims regarding wages, pointing out that the officers and the county are currently involved in contract negotiations.  The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office is considered a “dual employer” with the county government as the partner.  “The county holds the purse strings and I do my best to make our salaries comparable with surrounding police departments and jails, to reduce the number of employees that transfer to better-paying departments, but in the end, the county holds the purse strings.”  Imperati took exception to Hanlon’s claim that the sheriff has created a toxic work environment.  “If the men and women that work for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office were unhappy, I wouldn’t have the endorsement of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Employees Association (DCSEA) and the Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff’s PBA.”