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No Vacancies? Osceola County Finds Keys to Attract and Retain Officer Staff
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Submitted by Denis Dowd, Director, Osceola County Corrections Department, Kissimmee, Florida for the 2007 LJN Exchange.


The recruitment and retention of staff in our jails always - or, at least for as long as I have been a jail manager - has been an issue of concern for managers. Not having enough staff to cover necessary posts, or not having the right staff to fill those posts, puts us in the troubling position of either reducing staff safety to unacceptable levels by leaving posts vacant or forcing tired, unhappy staff into those posts by mandating overtime. Neither option is a good one, and there are no other options when the jail must run.

We all have the responsibility to attract, hire, and retain a qualified staff in a relatively low-paying, relatively high-risk profession with relatively unpleasant working conditions and hours. It seems, from both my experience and my observations, that we attempt to do so by drawing attention to the external attractiveness of a job in our respective agencies. Jails are "spreading a wide net" in our recruiting processes, offering signing bonuses, trying to maintain pay parity with local law enforcement agencies and nearby corrections agencies, and making other efforts that have an outside focus. Despite these initiatives, jails continue to experience a high rate of position vacancies - 16% in the Osceola County Corrections Department in 2005 - and a national turnover rate that rose from 11.6% in 1994 to 16.6% in 2001 (Corrections Yearbook 2002, Camp, 2003). We jails have not changed our practices much, despite a great deal of discussion and expressed concern. This raises the question, "If we keep doing the same things, why should we expect the results to change?"

Posted Tue, Jan 25 2011 3:25 PM by Connie Clem
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