ELIZABETHTOWN — With the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office staff ready to move into the new detention center within a matter of weeks, and inmates being transferred sometime this summer, Sheriff Jim McVicker said there is a real need for additional manpower at the facility.
McVicker went before the Bladen County commissioners on Tuesday with a request to add five positions — three detention center staff and two deputy positions.
“I have it broken down to what we need in every position,” he said. “And the best scenario I can come up with with, at least right now, is that we need six positions on day shift and five on the night shift.”
McVicker said he had checked with detention centers in the region for comparison. Sampson County, which has an average inmate population of 240, has 10 positions filled on the day shift and eight on the night shift; Columbus County, with an average inmate population of 162, has eight on day shift and eight on night shift.
Bladen County currently has an average inmate population of 85, but the new detention center will have a capacity for 220 inmates.
“After touring the facility, there are a lot of pits and holes that I didn’t realize there would be … so is six and five enough?” asked Commissioner Michael Cogdell.
McVicker said it was — for now.
“I’m trying to do this as minimum as we can, but I truly believe in my heart that I will be back next year asking for more,” the sheriff said. “But I think, by then, the county will have a better understanding about the jail.”
McVicker added that he believes the detention center will be a financial asset to the county.
“Pender and Onslow (jails) are full now, so I believe we’ll be getting inmates sent to us once we open,” he said. “I’ve been told ‘once you build it, they will come,’ and I believe this jail will make the county money.”
The board inquired whether the detention center would be an eventual destination for federal inmates, but McVicker said it’s best to let the kinks get worked out before venturing down that path.
County Chairman Charles Ray Peterson told McVicker that his request “will lay on the table until the next meeting,” since it involved a request for money. That discussion and decision will be done during the May 1 meeting.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4162.