OKLAHOMA COUNTY - The Oklahoma County Jail Trust amended a promise of future benefits in hopes of curtailing massive staff departures at the jail. 

According to Sgt. Tara Harden, the jail lost 37 employees during the August pay cycle and 21 employees so far in the September pay cycle. She said that’s double normal turnover.

Last month, the Trust passed a resolution ensure “detention officers are afforded employment security, and retirement and health benefits comparable to those that they currently enjoy.”

That sparked a discussion as to the definition of comparable.

“We need reassurance from you,” Harden said. “We need commitments from you. And we need answers from you. And while I appreciate the resolution, we need solid commitment and solid answers.”

Monday, September 9 trustees unanimously approved a resolution to provide detention officers and other personnel “benefits equivalent to or better than those that they currently enjoy.”

After approving the updated promise, trustees said there’s not much more they can do until the board takes control of the jail in January.

“I’m a little confused,” trustee Ben Brown said. “It seems to me we’ve done everything we could do to address most if not all of the concerns we’ve heard today. I’m wondering who’s stirring the pot.”

Another concern for detention officers is the ability for employees who are CLEET licensed peace officers to keep that status under a trust instead of the sheriff.

Sgt. Steven Brewer told the panel he is currently going through the process to become CLEET certified and signed a four-year commitment to be a peace officer.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be in law enforcement, and I’ve finally reached one of those career goals, making to CLEET to become a certified peace officer,” Brewer said. “Now that I am at that point, with everything going on I now have several concerns about what’s going on. I’ve met it, now I feel like it’s about to be taken away.”

Trustee Kevin Calvey said the Pottawatomie County Jail Trust is able to commission CLEET officers and that the training’s director confirmed that that officers will be able to be certified last week. However, Brewer said no one from CLEET has confirmed that to detention officers.