Lawmaker calls for ‘fair treatment’ of county jail deputies

Local News

A stalemate in contract negotiations between Monroe County and the union representing the county’s jail deputies is resulting in many experienced law enforcement officers taking an early retirement.

40 jail deputies have retired in 2016 so far because of recent contract issues.

County Legislator Justin Wilcox (D-Brighton) has taken upon himself to speak with a handful of deputies who work inside the jail, and patrol the roads, about their concerns with the contracts. 

A previous contract for road patrol deputies was passed last November, and due to the difference in benefits, around 20% of these deputies have retired. Current road patrol deputies have until August to make their decision.

Union reps said many jail deputies are considering retirement in fear of being forced into a similar contract the road patrol deputies are working under.

Wilcox says he now understands why many of these deputies are jumping into retirement so soon. 

“The administration is not willing to negotiate. Deputies are leaving at a time when they can. Frankly, if they stay…some are going to be paying to stay. It doesn’t make sense, so the exodus of deputies is very disconcerting,” said Wilcox, who also pointed out this is proving to be a major public safety issue for Monroe County.

Wilcox questioned whether the county is in violation of state law when it comes to the number of deputies required to staff the jail.

“It’s very important that they’re properly staffed, and same thing with the road patrol. The road patrol needs to be properly staffed or else they can’t meet all their responsibilities, and that puts the public at risk. If they can’t respond to critical issues in a timely manner that puts us all in harm’s way,” said Wilcox.

The head of the jail deputies union, Wayne Guest, told News 8 the county’s human resources director, Brayton Connard, told him during recent negotiations: “if it were up to me, you’d all be making minimum wage.”

Connard did not return our calls, and a county spokesperson would not confirm or deny the remarks.

Wilcox said if Connard is this unwilling to negotiate in good faith, he should resign.

“Who would want to be a deputy in this kind of environment where frankly, they take care of people at the top. Brayton (Connard)’s making over $100,000, (Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn)’s making over $100,000. They’re taking care of their own, but they’re not taking care of the men and women on the line,” said Wilcox.

County officials were unable to go on-camera with News 8 for this story, but a spokesperson said in a statement: “The County prefers and looks forward to negotiating at the bargaining table, instead of through the media.”

Jail union reps are meeting again with the county on August 11th.

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