Baltimore County Struggling To Recruit And Maintain Corrections Officers
BALTIMORE COUNTY - The Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson does not have enough guards.
Walt Pesterfield, director of corrections for the county, said there is a 37% vacancy rate in correctional officer positions during a county council meeting on Tuesday.
The high vacancy rate is forcing the department to pay mandatory overtime, and the added strain on corrections officers is making it more challenging to recruit new officers and keep the ones they have.
“Mandatory overtime is at an all-time high, which causes staff to lose time with their family, causes chronic fatigue and low morale,” Pesterfield said at the meeting.
Efforts to fill the vacancies with increased pay and job fair programs have yet to address the issue adequately.
In 2021, former Governor Larry Hogan unveiled a net 13 million dollar pay bump for corrections officers in Maryland. The recently announced FY 2023 Baltimore County budget also includes “historic pay increases for our law enforcement professionals, including our police officers, 911 personnel, and correctional officers.”
According to Baltimore County’s jobs website, a correctional officer makes between $47,825 and $59,847 annually, plus benefits. Pesterfied noted that this is significantly higher than the salary for patrol officers.
“We’re about $3,000, I believe, over the starting pay over the state,” Pesterfield said.
Stacy Rodgers, Baltimore County Administrative Officer, said that the county is dealing with a nationwide shortage of corrections officers, forcing the department to compete with correctional facilities nationwide.
At the council meeting, Pesterfield requested that the county provide $50,000 in funding to run television ads to recruit more officers. The council is expected to vote on his request on Monday, May 1.