Tuesday, February 8, 2011

24/7 at the Jail; blizzard or not

Yesterday morning I stood in the parking lot of the McHenry County Administration Building, located at 667 Ware Road, and talked with a reporter about last week's blizzard. We were across the street from the north end of the County Government Center, where the McHenry County Jail is located. We spoke about the importance of planning for emergencies and wondered how the Jail had handled it.

I must have sent out a mental message, because the answer arrived this afternoon.

I was told by someone in a position to know that the recent blizzard was handled very well by the MCSO higher administration. Corrections Officers were stranded at the jail, and Undersheriff Zinke organized food for the officers and made sure that cots were available. The officers and  supervisors who were present at the jail handled the weather crisis very well.

The storm intensified on Tuesday night about the time of shift change. And here's where it got sticky. As the hour of shift-change nears, normally you have officers and supervisors planning to depart and others arriving to take over. Protocol would dictate that those departing would first brief those who were arriving. In other words, you bring your arriving colleague up-to-date on the status of the jail and inmates before you leave.
That is, unless you think you might get "stuck" at the jail because of the blizzard and not be able to leave. If that's the case, then, on the minute of the end of your shift, you hit the door, whether or not your relief has arrived.
If you are supervisors, wouldn't you be expected to wait and determine whether the Jail was adequately staffed, before you left? Is that what happened Tuesday night?
I hear that one of the supervisors did wait. He stayed and joined the many officers who remained to assist the "short" midnight shift in staffing the jail.
Would there be anything "funny" to (i.e., to be laughed at by) a supervisor who hits the door on the minute)?
Kudos to the sergeant who stayed and the ones who made it in, even if their arrival was delayed because of hazardous roads.
Thanks to Chief Sedlock for phoning in to the Jail to check on operations. Did any other members of the jail supervisory staff call in?
And thanks to Undersheriff Zinke for being very involved with the jail and the deputies out on the road. I believe the jail officers are proud of how their fellow corrections officers pitched in during the weather crisis. As to their feelings about the supervisors who bailed? Those words will be left out of this article.

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