by Sam Hieb
Seems like Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson is in the news quite a bit these days. Now he says he needs more jailers:
Starting salaries for jailers working at the Alamance County jail are too low to compete with salaries at jails in Guilford, Orange, Forsyth and Durham counties, Johnson says.
“Nobody wants to work back there for $26,000 a year,” he says.
The sheriff’s opinion constitutes a change in his thinking over the years. During Johnson’s 2002 campaign against then-Sheriff Gary Massey, Johnson said Alamance County didn’t need staffing increases in the sheriff’s department. More training and better use of existing staff was the answer, Johnson said.
Massey called Johnson’s contentions a “dream world.”
Shortly after winning the election, Johnson sought and got 21 more jailers and 20 more deputies from the Board of Commissioners, who raised taxes to pay for them. At the time, Johnson said he didn’t realize how understaffed his department was until he took office.
At least one county commissioner says Johnson needs to suck it up:
Commissioner Ann Vaughan also thinks local jailers should be paid more but says the county can’t afford to increase salaries at the moment, given recent tax increases and the cost of building a jail expansion.
First, she says, the county must see more dollars from bed-space rentals at the county jail.
“I think we need to pay the county back for expanding that jail. Can’t he do with what he has for now?” she says. “We have raised the taxes so much for this jail. Show me the money.