An Open Letter to the Members of the Dutchess County Sheriff's Employee's Association:

I was very surprised, and disappointed, to learn in the Mid-Hudson News that the DCSEA had already endorsed a candidate for the Office of Sheriff. I had hoped to have a chance to tell you why I entered this race before an endorsement was given.


Here’s why I’m running: First, because someone needs to stand up for the Correctional Staff; second, I am skilled in policy and budget development and I see clearly where waste can be trimmed and salaries and working conditions improved; and third, because I can win this race.


For as long as I can remember, the old boys’ club has taken advantage of the line staff in both the Correction and Law Enforcement Divisions. For too many years we have been artificially divided. I was hired as a CO shortly after the two unions split, and have seen the unnecessary ugliness from both sides of the parking lot. No one benefits if we are turned against each other. Well, an Administration that fears a unified workforce benefits, but not the deputies, not the civilian staff, not the taxpayers, and certainly not the sworn correctional staff.


I have seen how, for the last quarter-century, the Correction Officers have had to wait their turn, a turn that never came. Corrections even had to wait at the end of the line, after all others had gone, to pay their respects to our fallen Sheriff. I was angered at that humiliation. You deserved better than to be treated as second-class citizens. You deserve to have the dignity of your work recognized all year long, and not just in a week of friendly press stories. You deserve a seat at the table.


The mandot has costs: It tears families apart, endangers officers from exhaustion, and places them in legal danger from making a bad decision they would not have otherwise made. But here’s what’s ticking under the surface: When the JTC opens, we expect much of the current overtime will end, causing an unsustainable contraction in your pay. Think about all the things the overtime lets you do now, and then imagine it vanishing within a month of the transition. What will happen when you are no longer pulling in another 80 hours a pay period? Where will that money come from? The Administration has a responsibility to protect you, and it isn’t. This contraction will also affect your retirement and your deferred comp. CO pay must be adjusted upwards to sufficiently recruit and retain, and we must limit the impact of loss of overtime on the officers and their families.


Before I retired, I addressed this in at least two memoranda to the Acting Sheriff, but received no acknowledgement in return. I have been consistently clear: The JTC Transition Plan must address this issue, because if there’s no smooth financial transition for the correction officers, then how can there be buy-in for all the other changes in workflow and culture that must occur? I won’t let you, or this amazing new facility, fail.


You wouldn’t accept a peanut butter sandwich from an inmate, why would you accept one from

the Administration? You deserve better, and when I’m Sheriff, I’ll work for decent salaries. I’ll address the toxic work environment and find ways to help the staff grow professionally and personally.


Let’s make this a great place to work, by putting you and your families’ needs first.


Be safe and well,


Jill


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