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In defense of deputies

MY VIEW - Jail critics taking frustrations out in wrong place
by: JIM CLARK, on Bryant, who works at Inverness jail, says not to judge the job deputies do until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

I've been a corrections deputy for more than 28 years, 22 with the Multnomah County sheriff's office.

I've had a chance to read all the stories about what we are doing wrong in the jail. The sad thing about the recent report from the Multnomah County district attorney's office is that its authors and the commissioners who requested it don't work in the jail and don't know the first thing about my job.

First of all, we are well-educated, well-trained professionals. Walking through the jail during a 15-minute guided tour does not make you qualified to say I or my fellow deputies don't know how to do our job. I've never seen the two assistant district attorneys who wrote the report working in the jail. I have not seen any of the commissioners working there, either.

The report said that sick time and overtime were out of control. I'd like to point out that it is cheaper to pay overtime than it is to hire more staff and pay benefits. The more staff you hire, the higher the sick calls go. Vacations increase, and it will just create more overtime.

Also, we have a large number of staff who won't have anything to do from December to April since there is hardly anyone off on vacation then. Sick time is a benefit, and we have rules in place if someone abuses it.

I would like to see the DAs and the commissioners come and work a 75-man dorm with me on a swing shift. Come and work the booking counter on swing shift or graveyard shift on the weekend for eight hours. Come and work 4d (Psych) module at the Justice Center for 16 hours.

I challenge you to do this for a week and then write another report on us. If you can't, you shouldn't write a story or make judgments about our job performance when you have no idea how to do my job or what we go through every day.

It's unfair for the DA's office and the commissioners to take their frustrations and their open dislike for Sheriff Bernie Giusto out on us. The sheriff is in charge of more than just the jails. As far as I see it from the inside, he is doing the best job he can, and I respect him for it.

Unless you can find time to come and work here with us to really learn what's going on, please quit making judgments about something you don't have any firsthand knowledge about.

Don Bryant is a sheriff's deputy for Multnomah County Corrections.