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Cass County Sheriff's Department makes moves to try to boost staffing

Shortage of employees causing strain on those picking up the slack.

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Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner holds a news conference Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, at the Cass County Law Enforcement Center, Fargo, regarding a fatal shooting Monday in Casselton. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

FARGO — Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner said his department is short about 20 employees in the county jail and six deputies in the field.

The sheriff said the shortage of employees has been ongoing for several months, calling the shortage of 20 staff at the county jail "extreme."

He said it has resulted in some employees being asked to work on their days off with vacations not always approved.

So in an effort to relieve some of the pressure on current employees who are working overtime and to encourage more part-time help he proposed a series of three moves to help the situation.

County commissioners approved the sheriff's proposed measures unanimously. They are:

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  • Pay is increased for "roster employees" from $20 an hour to $22, with opportunities for yearly raises if they work more than 500 hours or about the equivalent of 60 days a year. Jahner said there are about 10 jail correctional officers who fill in to help at the jail who aren't fully licensed but can work occasional shifts. There are also about 10 former or retired licensed law enforcement officers that can fill in or volunteer for the reserve unit who are trained to assist deputies but can only work with a licensed deputy.
  • Four employees who have been working extra hours in the past year during the shortages but have reached their maximum level of vacation time will be paid for those hours above 240, as Jahner said it's truly a unique situation. He said one employee had banked a year-end balance of 432 hours and another had 369 hours, with the other two at 292 and 275 hours. The sheriff said they have been unable to give the deputies requested time off and that it was "unfair to lose those vacation hours when we didn't allow it." In all, it will cost the county about $12,200. He said the cost would be greater by having to pay overtime to other employees.
  • Deputies who work special events will receive an hourly boost in wages from $45 an hour to $60. The deputies work such events as North Dakota State University Bison football games, street dances and wedding or barn dances. Jahner said $60 would be a similar rate paid to Fargo or NDSU police. He added it could entice deputies to agree to work the events as he said his top concern is "public safety" and he likes to see a presence at gatherings. There will also be a $50 administrative fee per event to cover fuel and payroll expenses.
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