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Neb. COs plead for board’s help with staffing crisis

Corrections officers in Nebraska, some in tears, pleaded with a county board to help them with a severe staffing shortage


By CorrectionsOne Staff

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Neb. — Corrections officers in Nebraska, some in tears, pleaded with a county board to help them with a severe staffing shortage.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that more than 60 COs attended the Douglas County board meeting on Tuesday. Lt. Dave Aldrich, president of the corrections officers’ union, said the lack of officers is requiring thousands of hours in mandatory overtime. The shortage has led to 16-hour shifts that wear officers down, causing many to quit.

“Commissioners, we need your help,” Aldrich said.

Some COs shared their struggles with the long shifts. CO Heather Hester said the 16-hour double shifts have sometimes left her too worn out to drive home.

“I’ve slept in my car in the (jail) parking lot numerous times,” Hester told the board.

Aldrich asked the board to consider speeding up the hiring process. Currently, it takes 10 to 12 weeks from when a group of applicants take the initial exam until a class of recruits begin an eight-week training regimen.

Board members said they sympathized with the officers, with some being moved to tears after hearing their stories. No board action was proposed during the meeting, and none was taken.

Pay and pension benefits for officers are currently a part of an ongoing negotiation between the union and county administrators. Negotiations have been taking place since May 2017 after the last contract expired in July 2017.

The board did agree on some options to help the COs in the short term, though they declined to comment on the details, saying collective bargaining rules forbid it.

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