Public Safety
5:29 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

New report recommends changes for Sheriff's Court and Jail Division

Credit Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

UPDATE 5/15/14 : Greenwood & Streicher are expected to release one or two more reports says Michael Robison, Director of Media and Public Relations with the Sheriff's Office. The consulting group is also analyzing the department's Enforcement and Support Services divisions. Robison says it is uncertain when that/those reports will be ready.

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Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil says training, staffing and information technology remain key areas of concern for his department.

Neil makes the comments in a letter delivered Wednesday to Hamilton County Commissioners. In the letter he cites a new report by Greenwood & Streicher, LLC evaluating the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office's Court and Jail Services Division.

The report is a follow up to the comprehensive audit Neil ordered when he took office in January 2013. As in that first report, the new report finds staff are highly disciplined but also resistant to change. It also suggests, as stated above,there are three "mission-critical functions... requiring urgent attention -
staffing, technology, and training."

The report takes a critical stance toward the way previous Sheriff Simon Leis ran the jail, concluding deputies "often referred to themselves as being considered 'second class officers' within the HCSO because 'patrol division is more important than everyone else in this department.'" Greenwood & Streicher say the climate has improved under the new administration.

Training

The report makes three recommendations when it comes to training. They include:

RECOMMENDATION: The agency should develop its own recruit
training and conduct such training so as to afford employees an
adequate orientation unto the culture and expectations of the HCSO.

RECOMMENDATION: The HCSO should immediately establish a
mandatory training program, including assignment with a field
training officer that must be satisfactorily completed before deputies are permitted to work secondary employment as a member of the
HCSO. Routine training in all other areas, including use of force,
must resume.

RECOMMENDATION: There are no excuses for failure to train in a
modern law enforcement and corrections agency. HCSO, the elected
officeholders, and County have an absolute mandate to train to the
constitutional standards required. Failure to train has led to
decreased expectations, diminished performance, and creates
dangers at all levels due to ineffective and constitutionally deficient
practices. Failure to reinstate all necessary training to
constitutionally required levels equates to ineffective supervision,
civil rights violations, unconstitutional practices, and unnecessary
legal exposure. Failure of the HCSO, elected officeholders, and
County administration to remedy these defects will demonstrate the
need for external intervention and oversight in the form of a consent
decree, judgment, or pattern or practice investigation under 42 U.S.C.
§ 14141, at unknown but enormous cost.

Technology Recommendations

RECOMMENDATION: The HCSO should greatly expand its use of
technology to create a viable, usable records management system, as
well as an inmate assessment and intake system. These investments
will deliver significant return on investment by decreasing spiraling
personnel costs to perform these functions manually. The HCSO
should greatly expand its EMU program to insure that the HCJC
houses only the most necessary detainees, and use it on a regional
basis as a force-multiplier in investigating and solving crime.
 

Staffing Recommendations

RECOMMENDATION: The HCSO should conduct a data-driven
staffing assessment that takes into account national, regional, state,
and best practices standards to determine optimal levels of staffing,
and devote more resources to frontline staffing where security issues
are paramount. At minimum, deputies should be equipped with an
adequate radio system that provides transmission capability within
the HCJC, for their safety, the safety of non-sworn employees, visitors
and inmates.

RECOMMENDATION: The HCSO must take immediate steps to
enhance basic security in the court services division. Felony warrant
service staffing should be increased to reduce the backlog, and
inmates should be processed in the HCJC and contained properly,
rather than handcuffed to furniture in a public area. The armory in
the court services division must be either relocated to a secure
location or replaced with an armored gun safe.

RECOMMENDATION: The HCSO should commit to pursuing
accreditation through the American Corrections Association. There is
no reason to reinvent the wheel, and accreditation will allow HCSO to
adopt nationally accepted standards for staffing, rules, regulations,
policies, procedures, and operational guidance.
HCSO should also partner with the University of Cincinnati’s world
renowned Corrections Institute. This is in the beginning stages of
implementation since the transition. Such a partnership will open the
agency to professional scrutiny with the aim of enhancing
effectiveness and performance by utilizing the inspection, audit, and
review processes, comparison to current best practice, data analysis,
evidence-based decision making and intelligence-led operations.
Doing so can transition the HCSO’s Corrections Division from simply
a jail to a “different kind of jail” — a jail for the 21st century.