Giardino gets support to hire jail officers

Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino discusses personnel issues at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting Monday at the County Office Building in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County supervisors on Monday supported Sheriff Richard Giardino’s request to have the ability to hire corrections officers from other adjoining counties.

The move to open up the pool of jail officers by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee — subject to full board approval Nov. 9 — was one of several personnel issues addressed by the sheriff at the committee’s last regular meeting of the year at the County Office Building.

Giardino requested permission for a local law changing the requirement that Fulton County Jail corrections officers be county residents and allow hiring from adjoining counties. He said that move may help, especially, with the hiring of female applicants.

“We go through a lot of corrections officers,” Giardino said.

Currently, the sheriff’s office is restricted from hiring full-time and per diem corrections officers from adjoining counties.

The sheriff said the residency requirement can be modified by a local law, according to information he received from the New York State Sheriff’s Association counsel.

Giardino said Fulton County continues to have a difficult time finding well-qualified interested persons – especially female corrections officers. He said the sheriff’s office is required by the state Correction Commission to have a certain number of female officers on duty daily.

He noted that both the Montgomery County and Saratoga County sheriff’s offices allow for the hiring of correction officers from adjacent counties.

The sheriff said the new local law would simply state that a person “performing the duties and functions of a Fulton County correction officer must be a resident in Fulton County or any adjoining county.”

In another personnel move, the committee supported reducing a civil clerk position in his department to per diem in 2021 for training purposes and the possible court reopening. The full board would review the proposed resolution for final action Nov. 9.

Giardino recounted how the board in 2017 created a second civil clerk position to provide for training to assume the senior civil clerk’s position. He said the senior clerk is retiring Jan. 30, after having served the sheriff’s office 34 years. But he said the senior clerk believes the person assuming the position will need more training.

The sheriff said the COVID-19 pandemic suspension of many of the functions of the Civil Office has further hindered training.

He is seeking to reduce the civil clerk’s position from full-time to per diem without benefits to keep the former senior clerk in a part-time position for a year to continue to train the new senior clerk and assist with the anticipated influx of COVID suspended cases. He said no benefits means no pension and insurance during the per diem tenure.

“That will save us approximately $30,000,” Giardino said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older