Staff at Rock County jail may keep protective status

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Smith

JANESVILLE - A Rock County Board member introduced a resolution during its meeting Thursday, to continue the protected status for correctional staff in the Rock County Sheriff's Office, prompting future discussion and a board vote on the issue.

Tensions flared after the county administration announced it would remove corrections officers from the protective class under the state's retirement system after legal review.

County Administrator Josh Smith said the county supported changing the status following a 2016 case in Chippewa County that ruled corrections officers don't meet the needed requirements for protective status, a status commonly given to law enforcement agencies across the state.

Only 10 of Wisconsin's 72 counties still claim corrections officers as protected status.

"From the county's perspective, we have been watching it and knew other counties had been looking at it, too," Smith said. "I don't think anyone feels good about it."

Smith said county staff compiled a report regarding staff at the sheriff's office compared to counties of similar size.

The sheriff's office has 211 patrol, corrections and detective division staff, just below the average total of the six counties included in the report. To date there are 16 administrative and support staff, 56 patrol staff, 124 corrections staff and 15 detective staff, according to the report.

The resolution was introduced by District 14 Supervisor Terry Fell Thursday night to keep corrections staff as a protected status will go before the Public Safety and Justice Committee for review.

The contract with corrections officers expires in December.

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