Sheriff Makes Late Offer To Keep Control Of The Escambia Jail

July 23, 2013

Monday, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan extended  a late offer to keep the county jail and defer some of his budget requests, if the Escambia County Commission can come to term with some of the conditions of his offer.

In late June, the county commission voted to take over the jail effective October 1 after Morgan notified them that he was giving them control of the lockup. The move came amidst budget negotiations and questions over how to best bring the Escambia County Jail into compliance with a Department of Justice report. The jail needs funding for new employees to comply with the DOJ findings and there was nowhere near a consensus among commissioners as how to fund the improvements.

In Monday’s letter to commissioners, Morgan said he would be willing to continue to be responsible for the jail.

“I continue to believe that transfer of the jail to the  county is not in the best interest of the county or its constituent taxpayers. Transfer of the jail by October 1, 2013, will be challenging and will come at a significant cost in terms of labor and funding,” Morgan wrote. “Once the transfer is complete, reversing the process will be equally challenging. Additionally, transfer of the jail will divert attention and resources from the many serious issues county government now faces.”

  • Morgan said he is willing to enter into an agreement to retain management of the Escambia County Jail until October 1, 2014, with the following stipulations:
  • The county will increase the jail budget for the upcoming fiscal year by $2.6 million, along with mandatory retirement and insurance increases to allow for the hiring of a portion of the increased staffing recommend by the DOJ.
  • Morgan will agree to defer seeking pay parity for deputies and detention deputies (about $2.6 million of his original request for holiday and overtime pay) until the next budget year.
  • Morgan will agree not to appeal this year’s budget to the governor, if the county does not decrease his law enforcement and court security budgets.

Morgan said he believes his new proposal will be “much more palatable” to the DOJ than the current plan to “hurriedly transfer the jail”. If the county has interest in his proposal, Morgan suggests the formation of a negotiating team work out the details.


32 Responses to “Sheriff Makes Late Offer To Keep Control Of The Escambia Jail”

  1. Rick on July 25th, 2013 1:26 pm

    To Oversight; I, for one, am really glad that was your last word! Local yokel jail, indeed!

  2. jeeperman on July 25th, 2013 8:06 am

    You Morgan haters need to get over the fact that whom ever the Sheriff is, must have prior experience in law enforcement.
    Todays Sheriff’’s (not just ours) are not the same as 50 years ago.
    They are administrators, bureaucrats, etc. that need to administrate and manage the operation and play politics in a multi-million dollar operation.
    They do not need to have had experience in arresting anyone or patrol duty or walking a beat, etc.

  3. Oversight on July 24th, 2013 9:22 pm

    This is my last comment on this topic…

    clueless wrote, “You would know that the inmates are already classified when the prison gets them” Really? And I’m sure you never search inmates that are brought in because the police officer says that they’ve been searched, right? Prisons are in the classification business, because local jailers make mistakes. Each facility has trained classifiers who evaluate every inmate upon intake. So I’m not sure if you know what you’re talking about. As for the local jail, many customers are repeat offenders who have known track records; this should make your classification rather simple.

    “You speak as though you know how to run a jail and there is no comparison.” Actually there are many similarities. However, a prison is much harder to run than a local yokel jail, which offers few if any programs.

    “The county road prison is no comparison.” How can you say that with a straight face as you just down graded the corrections officers at the road prison. The task of care, control and custody of inmates is the same and all jailers go to the same state corrections school, where they receive the same training.

    “If you are a warden then I’m sure that you sat behind your desk and made twice what your employees made so no skin off your back right?” You assumed wrongly again! I toured my facility and personally meet with those in disciplinary segregation daily. Does your sheriff do this? My guess is he does not. Also, I made closer to three or four of five times more than starting line officers. And your beef with that is? Doesn’t your sheriff make three or four times what the starting jailer makes, with his $140K salary?

    Look, the current sheriff had no jail experience the day he took over. So saying that he is the best at running the jail is a far stretch. As for how the sheriff’s office regained the jail years ago, I’m sure it had something to do with good old boy politics knowing E”scam”bia County. But when Morgan went to the board with his $18 million demand or else, he sold out his integrity with this bold faced lie to the public.

  4. clueless on July 24th, 2013 5:26 pm

    Oversight, if you are a retired warden, which I doubt, you would know that there is a big difference in running a jail as to a prison. You would know that the inmates are already classified when the prison gets them
    When they come to jail they are not. You speak as though you know how to run a jail and there is no comparison. As far as raises go, the price if health insurance is so different that it will cost me 100 more to keep that. If you are a warden then I’m sure that you sat behind your desk and made twice what your employees made so no skin off your back right? The sheriff is doing a top knitch job at running the jail. The county road prison is no comparison. CRP staff, this does not mean that you don’t have a great task at your facility. I’m saying that the general public has not got a clue as to the depth of the responsibility that the sheriff endures and the county commissioners gave it back one time already due to the expences that accrued. That was before computers and added expense.

  5. granny on July 24th, 2013 12:06 pm

    Have seen a lot of sheriffs come and go but I haven’t seen anything on about why this sheriff has let his crew get so low other then he wanted to train everybody at one time. He has about 15 officers to hire and he is just sitting on it. Would that not help with the jail business?

  6. jeeperman on July 24th, 2013 8:45 am

    Transfer of the jail to the BOCC does not make the expense to comply with the DOJ requirements go away.
    In fact, the expenses will be more if the BOCC takes over.
    Wait and see.

  7. aam on July 24th, 2013 8:17 am

    Well Doug Masters it is obvious that you have a relative or work for the Sheriff’s office. Believe me I am grateful for all of the deputies that serve our county. I do have a good job and pay for my gas. I made an honest suggestion to save the county money and you don’t like it so lets make it voluntary to pay on your property tax a place you can give to the gas fund. All of your reasons to have them drive the cars still doesn’t justify it for me (sorry)
    I do want to send out a big thank you to all of the Deputies for watching over our citizens, even those that don’t agree with some of their policies.

  8. Lucy on July 24th, 2013 7:58 am

    LegalEagle – thanks for the morning chuckle!!!!

  9. Oversight on July 24th, 2013 7:31 am

    clueless… I’ve been a prison warden and have since retired from federal service. How about you? Running a facility is not rocket science and the county commission has the ability to run the jail. Besides, there is experience with the board; the BOCC currently operates a work camp/road prison. Also, county commission’s corrections officers get paid more than sheriff’s jailers. So with the commission’s takeover, jail employees will get a raise.

    Face it. The sheriff tried to strong arm the taxpayers for $18M and the county commission called his bluff. What will happen next year if the board relents, another power shake-down for more money by the sheriff? To avoid this, the BOCC stay the course and continue with the jail’s transfer.

  10. Doug Masters on July 23rd, 2013 10:14 pm

    Be a chief and do the research yourself. Those studies can be found on the internet. Their not hard to find. Remember hurricane Ivan. All hands were on deck for a month afterward. It is called alpha-bravo shifts. How about hurricane Katrina. Every officer that was not working here, volunteered to go to Mississippi to assist over there. Their take home cars were used to serve and protect on 18 hour shifts. It will happen anytime a hurricane gets close to this area. I’m not saying that some officers don’t abuse the privilege. But, just like everything else in this country, you can’t punish the masses for a few violators. Deal with those individuals as individuals. Take the cars from the officers and you will see more officers leave this area. They are already leaving in record numbers due to low pay. Cutting into emergency response time when you or your family need it. Most agency policies allow for an officer to live in the same county or the next one to the employing agency. Some agencies allow a specified max distance; ex. 100 miles. If you people don’t want to pay to provide all the possible tools and equipment to your protectors to provide security for your, then move. There are other counties and cities that don’t provide take home cars to their officers. Those counties usually have much higher starting salaries. Those officers are putting their lives on the line everyday for $35,000 a year. Now you want to take privileges from them too and then demand more protection and faster response times. Sounds like you all should strap on a badge and gun and try to do their job with less. You all wouldn’t last one day without demanding more.

  11. LegalEagle on July 23rd, 2013 9:51 pm

    Since Sir Knight Lord Sheriff has spoken, (I wonder if he and the Prince of Mississippi come from the same blue blood)…For someone who has traveled the world and has the best dept in the world and has captured more criminals than any other dept in the world, he sure isn’t very smart…

  12. fsugrad13 on July 23rd, 2013 6:51 pm

    Funny how an article on the jail leads to a comment about the chase policy for ECSO. Yes, High Speed Chases are dangerous, but no agency should ever TELL the public that they are not going to chase down the criminals. Your only giving them the green light to run after they commit a major felony especially with no helicopter anymore. Hold deputies and supervisors accountable if they engage in a chase for minor incidents, write them up and if they dont get it suspend them or fire them for non compliance. The citizens of Escambia County shouldn’t suffer if a murder happens and deputies still cant chase down the suspect.

  13. Michael on July 23rd, 2013 6:14 pm

    M… High speed chases are stupid and dangerous to innocent people on the roads.. I’m not a fan of Morgan but I do agree with him on that.

  14. M on July 23rd, 2013 6:09 pm

    The BCC and Sheriff should just be patient, with Sheriff Morgan’s new “no high speed chase policy”, It’s just a matter of time until the jail population falls since deputes can’t chase them to arrest them anymore.

  15. Chief says..... on July 23rd, 2013 5:24 pm

    @Doug Masters

    It is easy to say “there are studies” to support your statements, but anyone with a lick of sense knows studies can skewed to prove whatever the person conducting the studies wants. Much like polls; poll this area and you will find a strong republican/conservative viewpoint, same poll taken in say northern California would likely have opposite opinions. Just saying that a study was conducted doesn’t mean anything.
    Some local LEOs abuse the “take a patrol car home program” in many ways, one of which was already mentioned concerning how far away an officers resides away from his place of business. Officers working in Pensacola and living in North Milton are hardly a “ready asset” to his peers. Other abuses I have personally witnessed include using patrol cars to take kids/family to school, church, grocery, etc…
    I risked life and limb for more years than I care to recount for this great country, and for most of those years I made less than LEOs do today, and I NEVER had a government vehicle to use for travel to/from work. So NO I DON’T WANT TO PAY FOR THEIR TRAVEL TO/FROM work or wherever there travels may take them unless they are ON DUTY and ON THE CLOCK!!!
    We as tax paying citizens can no longer support this luxury for those who CHOSE to wear the uniform.
    And as far as being on call and ready to go at a moments notice I say malarkey. These guys and gals are human, so when it’s knock off time, they are not waiting around for an emergency call. They are knocking back a few cold ones or whatever, not waiting for the next great emergency. Besides, when was the last time we needed all hands on deck in Escambia County??? I am guessing like never…..just saying.

    We need to cut corners anywhere we can and this “take a patrol car home deal” is definitely a cut that needs to be seriously considered.

  16. clueless on July 23rd, 2013 5:06 pm

    I guess oversight could do a better job. I am glad that the sheriff is trying to hold on to the jail. Oversight, put this in your pipe and smoke it. Because of manpower shortages, you care in a open dorm with 80 inmates. It starts with 2 mad at one. The officer tries to break it up but can’t so he calls for back up. That’s right, Harry or Sally is sick today and nobody responds. Well the officer gets kicked to sleep. The inmates buddy or buddies grab the keys and whatever else and escapes. They steal a car and just so happens, gets chased into oversights neighborhood. He or they bust in your door and take you and your family hostage…… seems a little far fetched but it could happen. Oh the street deputies can respond in time to save your life because they have to get to their cars first. Some may say that would never happen to me but guess what? You know the answer to that. We forgot about the officer in the jail who dies from him head trauma and leaves behind 2 kids and a widow for the lowest pay in the state but he does it because of his pride for his job and the oath he takes to protect and serve. Its time that the public wakes up and realizes that you can’t just overlook the possibilities. The ones of you that speak down about the Sheriff really don’t understand how hard that job can be. Walk a mile in our shoes then go buy a gallon of milk and a tank full of gas after being told for the 9th year in a row there are no raises.

  17. jeeperman on July 23rd, 2013 4:31 pm

    Doug Masters,
    What you post makes sense.
    Although it seems that #3 would cause certain parts to fail sooner than if driving manners were “spread out” among multiple drivers.
    Anyways, just how far away is a deputy with a take-home car allowed to reside?
    Surely there is a maximum distance.

  18. Doug Masters on July 23rd, 2013 2:14 pm

    aam wrote “I really don’t like paying for gas so an officer can drive back and forth to work from Milton, no one pays for mine.”

    It doesn’t matter what you like. Those officers have take home cars for simple reasons. 1) they are subject to be called into service 24 hours a day. With little to no warning and time to run to the S.O. to pick up a vehicle. Then have that vehicle cleaned up and their equipment installed for it to be road ready, from the last officer that did not leave it in a readiness state. Would you rather have an officer ready to respond to your emergency immediately or him at the office for an hour getting his car ready for work. Then respond to your 911 call.
    2) national studies have proven that officers who have their own car assigned to them take better care of them than just a fleet car that has to be checked in/out.
    3) national studies also show that the cars are less likely to break down due to being driven consistently by one person. That person usually has their own driving style and the vehicle wears into that pattern. If the driving pattern is changed all the time the equipment wears differently and breaks down.
    4) It is one of the incentivees to hire new officers. Many agencies do not offer take home cars. Those agencies have a higher pay scale too. That offsets the costs of take home cars. Until this county is able to pay more then they should keep the take home cars. Afterall don’t you think that a person that risk their life everyday to protect you deserves some type of compensation as a thank you.
    If you want someone to buy your gas aam, find a job that will give you a company vehicle.

  19. Randy on July 23rd, 2013 12:32 pm

    1. The best way to eat an apple, is one bite at a time. Sheriff Morgan knows this and so do the County Commissioners. This is a win win situation for both parties.

  20. Rick on July 23rd, 2013 11:44 am

    Let’s see…..It began with Sheriff Morgan wanting more money to run the jail…BCC said they didn’t have any…It ends with Sheriff Morgan getting more money to run the jail. So….WHO blinked?

  21. Walnut Hill on July 23rd, 2013 11:25 am

    Well played, Sheriff Morgan!

  22. Bob on July 23rd, 2013 11:06 am

    Watching our commissioners is better than watching the three stooges because there are five. What a joke to watch Valentino and Tourant play their little games while the taxpayers get screwed. We must have the worst bunch of commissioners in the state. They should all resign and leave the county for good. And take that snake county administrator with you! He is one of the worst administrators I have ever seen. He should be in jail!

  23. Jacqueline on July 23rd, 2013 10:41 am

    The Sheriff has always said that he thought his office was better off running it. But he also asked for more money to bring it up to the standard that it needs to be. The Department of Justice investigation commended the Sheriff for some of the things that he did to try to improve shortcomings at the jail that they pointed out on their visits there. But there is only so much that you can do about understaffing if you don’t get any more money for it. The SO representatives explained in the BCC meetings that this is why they have the holiday and overtime pay issues… because they were so short handed they had to give them extra time on the books instead of letting them take it off. Though that is an issue that they can delay addressing, it will need to be addressed.

    There WAS an independent study done at the request of the Board of Commissioners but the Interim Administrator Touart didn’t seem to agree with those findings or the findings of the DOJ report.

    The Sheriff isn’t “backing down” at all. I would imagine that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel now that the BCC has decided to choose a new administrator in a timely manner instead of trying to shoehorn Mr. Touart into the position by ever-changing representations of what he is there for.
    Mr. Touart didn’t want the jail negotiations to go well, as he was already speaking with private jail contractors before the BCC ever directed him to do so (and against at least two commissioners stated positions.)

    This Thursday should be interesting as the board will need to discuss if the interim administrator has come up with concrete costs and funding for a jail transfer. So far, from watching the meetings, it appears that the board has been putting their faith in Mr. Touart and county staff that this can be done without raising taxes. We’ll see. Or they could accept this offer from the Sheriff’s Office and really get a handle on all the costs and staffing involved.

  24. patti on July 23rd, 2013 9:28 am

    Does anyone ever say anything nice about our Sheriff’s Dept. & it’s employees. Do you ever go and just talk to employees, the ones who put their lives on the line for you and me. Have you WALKED in their shoes. We need to support the sheriff department. The pay they receive for protecting our lives isn’t worth the job they do! I know there is always going to be someone to put down others, but isn’t it a shame that these people who put their lives on the line for you and me get put down. Hey! if you disagree with Mr. Morgan, you can always run for his job in the next election.

  25. aam on July 23rd, 2013 9:15 am

    What really happened is that Morgan realized that if he gave the jail up he also gives a large portion of his budget up. Morgan doesn’t want his power reduced (money) so he now only needs 2.6 million instead of 18 million just to get by. I agree we need to better fund the jail and do things right by the officers. Also the ones crying about how Morgan got the jail like it was let me ask you this, why weren’t policies changed and procedures put in place to make the jail more efficient? He could have made things better but didn’t.
    Lets do this, hire an independent company to come in and see where the Sheriff’s office can tighten up and save money like we have to do at home. Let’s look at the officers that live out of county not be able to drive the cruisers home to Milton on our gas card. Look at the administrative numbers, how many more supervisors have been added during his time. Use inmates more effectively to perform more menial tasks to earn gain time. Thats just a few off the top of my head. I really don’t like paying for gas so an officer can drive back and forth to work from Milton, no one pays for mine.

  26. 429SCJ on July 23rd, 2013 8:47 am

    Perhaps the state should take custody of inmates at the county level and end this bush league blood feud.

    Why in the world anyone would want to work in Law Enforcement is beyond me.
    It appears to be an aggravating proposition at best. Odd work for little pay.

    Regardless of the circumstances, we do appreciate the efforts and dedication of the ladies and gentlemen of the ECSO.

  27. Oversight on July 23rd, 2013 7:10 am

    Well, well, well… What happened to chicken little Morgan’s cry that the sky is falling and that he needs $18 millon NOW or else? And now the high shurf is eating a healthy dose of crow in what is a well deserved public humbling for Morgan. Escambia County deserves better leadership than this.

  28. jeeperman on July 23rd, 2013 7:01 am

    Don’t be so naive. Morgan inherited the jail from McNesby. The only thing Morgan did with how it is run is to kick the private healthcare provider to the curb.

    Morgan is actually offering the BOCC a way out from under a task they are totally unprepared to take on at this time.

    When it takes the county years to come up with a turtle lighting ordinance that they could copy from other Florida counties in an hour, we should have known the county could not do it this year.

  29. well on July 23rd, 2013 5:03 am

    Nor Jane can you imagine what things would be if the Sheriff got everything he asked for. As hard to imagine as it must be for you the jail will pretty much run itself (good employees).
    It’s just which ego trip is in charge.

  30. Jane on July 23rd, 2013 3:53 am

    Sheriff Morgan has the correct idea. Our County Commissioners can’t even figure out how to run their own budget and seem to be incompetent in most things they have done. I can’t even imagine what might happen if they were in charge of any aspect of law enforcement!

  31. wm on July 23rd, 2013 1:29 am

    Morgan just blinked…

  32. Northender on July 23rd, 2013 12:25 am

    It’s good to see our power hungry sheriff that attempted to bully the BBC back down. If Morgan would of been reasonable from the beginning none if this would of happened. I wonder how much time and $$$ the BBC has already spent in preparation for the transfer?

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