Jail Sprinkler System Faulty, Sheriff Reports

Jail Sprinkler System

Faulty, Sheriff Reports

But Repairs May Not Happen Until 2018

Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. reports on challenges at the county jail to the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee this morning. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – The sprinkler system in the Otsego County jail is faulty, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. told the county board’s Public Safety & Legal Affairs Committee this morning, but repairs may not come anytime soon.

“What I was told, if the system is activated, it will probably clog,” he told the committee at its monthly meeting.  Although it’s unclear how effective the sprinklers are, he said the alarms would probably allow all the inmates to be evacuated in time.

Committee member Dan Wilber, R-Burlington Flats, reacted:  “This is an extraordinary situation.”

Discussion among committee members identified $197,000 in this year’s approved budget for “jail repairs,” but issuing an RFP (request for proposals), reviewing bids and letting a contract will take time.  “It won’t get done this year,” one member predicted.

In addition to Wilber and committee Chairman Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, members in attendance included Craig Gelbsman, R-Oneonta, Keith McCarty, R-East Springfield, and Kay Stuligross, D-Oneonta.  Board Chair Kathy Clark was also in attendance.

In other jail business, the committee also authorized the sheriff to fill seven correctional officer slots, including elevating a CO to a sergeant vacancy due to a resignation.   Four of the vacancies were due to resignations in the past month.

A shortage of sergeants, coupled with state supervisory requirements, is causing the sergeants to work 16-hour shifts, he said, putting the jail in violation of state Commission of Corrections requirements.  Because a various reasons, 14 of the 47 jail employees are not available to work right now, he said.

Devlin also reported Commission of Corrections member Thomas J. Loughren, former Chenango County sheriff, toured the jail recently.  Frazier objected that the sheriff had invited county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who chairs the county board’s Public Works Committee, to attend, but no one from Public Safety.

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