Last week Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard offered county officials a wish list of possible solutions to the problem of burgeoning jail populations.
This week the county commissioners offered funds to pay for some of those programs.Included in his tentatively approved budget is funding for turning office space on the ninth floor of the Metropolitan Hall of Justice into jail space, more detoxification beds and additional jail officers.
Those three projects will not only help ease the pressure of the present jail situation, but according to Sheriff's Chief Deputy Dean Carr, will help ensure the same problem doesn't follow the department to the new jail in two years.
Carr said the additional detoxification beds, the badly needed space for women and the new staff members will be needed even after the new jail opens.
"We're not throwing good money after bad," he said. The commissioners seemed to approve of the permanency of the investment. They offered him about $1.3 million for those three items in his proposed budget.
The commission agreed to pay:
- $670,000 to renovate the ninth floor.
- $628,500 for new detoxification beds.
- $316,000 for more staff.
Other major items in Kennard's proposed budget included funding for officers to patrol Taylorsville and Draper and new officers for the department's Community Oriented Policing program.
The commissioners also agreed to pay $385,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by employees who said if they're required to attend a briefing before their shift starts, they want to be paid for it.
Kennard also asked for additional money for the jail's medical unit. In four months, the jail spent 94 percent of its medical account, 92 percent of its dental account and 55 percent of its ambulance account. The commission approved an additional $130,000 in that area, which provides medical treatment for prisoners.
The sheriff was also told he could hire personnel that will enable him to utilize holding cells that are underneath the 3rd District Court building. That will cost him about $68,800 for six months.
Commissioners met Friday morning to go over their total budget and won't give final approval to anything until next week.