Short-staffed Montgomery County sheriff and jail face more cuts during COVID-19 pandemic

A year ago, the Montgomery County jail was 40 corrections officers short of a full staff, stretched thin and working overtime. Now it’s 58 people short.

Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is 15 deputies short of a full staff to cover the county. And the coronavirus pandemic has forced those on duty to work even more overtime to cover as officers quarantine after exposure to the virus.

Despite that, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham is expecting 10% less funding for his office in 2021 because of the financial impact of the pandemic. He outlined a plan to deal with the cuts during a Tuesday hearing with county commissioners.

Cunningham pitched some cost-saving ideas to help, including sharing the salary of a full-time dispatcher with the town of Pike Road, and building and selling cars to other municipalities. “I think we’re still making sure that the equipment and the manpower are going to be there for our community,” he said.

He did have one request. He asked the commissioners for hazard pay for some of his officers.

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Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham talks about his department's budget Tuesday after meeting with the Montgomery County Commission.

“It’s about trying to recognize those that are going over and beyond,” he said. “… These guys and girls, they love their job. They love what they do. We may be short-handed, but we’re still getting the mission done and the task done.”

Cunningham was the first of a parade of department heads presenting their 2021 budget proposals to the Montgomery County Commission, which had asked each of them to plan for 10% across-the-board cuts.

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