Inmates released after jail workers call in sick - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Inmates released after jail workers call in sick

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NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV (FOX5) -

One wing of the North Las Vegas jail was closed and 70 non-violent inmates were released after dozens of workers -- covering 49 shifts -- called in sick, police said Friday.

"That's unsustainable for us," said Sgt. Tim Bedwell of North Las Vegas Police. "We don't have the personnel to continue that long term and we don't have the money to pay the overtime to fill the positions for days on end."

The announcement came one day after city officials confirmed they were considering downsizing the jail due to North Las Vegas' ongoing budget crisis.

At the time, the city said there were between 200 and 250 inmates at the jail, and about 150 corrections officers and support staff.

The head of the police officer's union, which represents the corrections officers, says it was not a sick out or "blue flu".

"There's been no organized effort," says Michael Yarter, president of the North Las Vegas Police Officers Association. "Whatever corrections officers called in, that was on an individual basis. We don't condone that. If we had known about that prior to it happening, I would have definitely told them not to do that."

The union says the release was unrelated to the sick calls and that the city was going to release some inmates anyway before any outsourcing began.

City officials say they were planning on releasing inmates with little time left to be served, but had to act earlier than expected.

The emphasize public safety was not put in jeopardy by the inmate release and things will remain business as usual.

"This is an issue where we had to lower the numbers," Bedwell said. "But to the criminals out there, we still have room in our jail. We still have partnerships with other jails. If you get arrested in North Las Vegas and have to go to jail, we'll bring you here."

The city has until June 1 to submit its budget and has proposed laying off more than 200 workers, including fire and police positions, in order to save $33 million.

Downsizing the jail was not a factor in the ongoing negotiations between the city and its unions, officials said.

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