Committee trying to soothe fears after voting to hire Oklahoma County jail administrator

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Officials with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office say they have lost a significant number of employees following a recent decision by a committee.

The Criminal Justice Authority Committee met on Monday for the first time since voting to hire a jail administrator to discuss current Oklahoma County Jail employees.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office says 59 employees have resigned or retired in the past six weeks.

They say it’s due to concerns over benefits when the jail trust takes over.

The committee tried to put their minds at ease during the meeting.

“Though we can not legally state at this time that they will be able to maintain all county benefits, it is our full intention that that be the likely outcome,” Committee Chair Tricia Everest said.

The committee unanimously voted on a resolution, stating the value and importance of each jail employee. Current employees say that’s great, but it’s not enough.

“It's about a lack of security. We need reassurance from you, we need commitments from you, and we need answers from you,” Oklahoma County Jail Mental Health Supervisor Sgt. Tara Hardin said. “While I appreciate the resolution, we need solid commitments and solid answers.”

Trustee Kevin Calvey said the committee is directing the legal council to begin working with the county to makes sure employees keep their benefits, and that they don’t lapse.

“As soon as we know legally the form in which that takes, I will be introducing that on the board of the county commissioners,” Calvey said. “To make sure you all retain the same retirement benefits that you have now.”

Current employees say they work these jobs because of the county benefits, so it’s important that they get to keep them.

“They continue to work a thankless job at below what most people would consider a good wage,” Sgt. Mike Durbin said. “So that they can provide for their families with health care, and hopefully, retirement income in the future.”

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