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"Gasoline on a fire": Pima County Sergeant discusses staffing shortages and future terminations

"Gasoline on a fire": Pima County Sergeant discusses staffing shortages and future terminations
Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 07:43:19-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Staffing shortages, double shifts, and a lot of overtime. That’s how Michael Dominguez, President of the Sheriff’s Labor Association describes working conditions in Pima County jails.

“Daily we’re having staff shortages of 10-15 overtimes per shift,” Dominguez said.

The association represents around 300 employees in the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Many are corrections officers.

“They’re tired, and honestly they don’t like the working conditions over there right now,” Dominguez said.

The situation could soon get worse. As a result of Pima County’s vaccine mandate, more than half of the department’s corrections staff stand to lose their jobs by December 31st.

“The board and the Sheriff they put gasoline on a fire because of our current staffing crisis. If you can’t run the jail with 370 officers, how can you faithfully say to the citizens of Pima County ‘we’ll be fine with 170 corrections officers’?”

Pima County Supervisor Matt Heinz has been a strong advocate for the vaccine mandate.

“It is the safest and most efficacious vaccine that humanity has ever developed,” Heinz said.

Heinz says mandates are effective and necessary.

“The goal is to not have a pandemic anymore. And that can only be done if we’re all working together to make it happen,” Heinz said.

He is optimistic that once the unvaccinated officers get educated on the vaccine, many of them will change their minds. He says 50 officers got vaccinated in just the last week.

“If that happens three more times, then we’re not going to have a problem come January 1st,” Heinz said.

But the County hasn't laid out its plan if hundreds are terminated. Heinz says the plan in discussion is more overtime, and releasing non-violent inmates.