DENVER – The union president representing Denver sheriff’s deputies says that work conditions at the jail are the worst he’s seen in his 23 years on the job there—and that overtime pay for deputies is only adding to the problems.
More than two years after the city promised to fix excessive overtime payouts at the city’s jails, Denver7 discovered deputies are still working long hours and cashing in on tens of thousands of dollars in overtime.
“We’ve gone through all that, and things are worse than before we started,” said union president Deputy Mike Jackson, who says the Denver Sheriff Department “just doesn’t have enough people to cover the positions.”
Deputy overtimes in the first six months of 2017 adds up to nearly $7 million so far. Last year’s overtime payouts cost taxpayers a record $14 million.
“It’s a lot (of money),” Jackson said. “It’s gross mismanagement—that’s really what it is.”
And despite all the money, Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman tells Denver7 he believes the department has made improvements, and blamed last year’s high price tag on 50 hours of required training for deputies.
“We don’t want staff to work overtime if they don’t have to,” Firman said.
While the sheriff says he believes overtime costs will end up being lower than last year’s Jackson says there’s no way that’s the case and that deputies have lost faith in the sheriff.
“He probably cannot make a decision anyway,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t really matter. He’s called the sheriff, but really, he’s just a political appointee who does whatever the mayor tells him to.”
Jackson also points to the now-infamous jailhouse videos as reasons why deputies shouldn’t be asked to work 10- or 12-hour days.
“It’s going to continue to get worse, and we as deputies—we’re tired of tragedies,” Jackson said.
Jackson says the overtime situation has been a morale-killer for deputies, that it’s made it hard to keep deputies on the job and to recruit new ones.
Jackson says he wants the sheriff to be elected by the people and not appointed by the mayor’s office, like the position is currently.