Ex-warden Blames Guards For His Ouster

He Says Schedule Changes Wereunpopular

September 29, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — The former warden of the Carroll County Detention Center said last week he was asked to resign because money-saving scheduling changes hemade were unpopular with the guards.

John E. "Jack" Hinton, 55, of Westminster, was named to the post when Sheriff John Brown took office in January.

He left Sept. 18 after Brown asked for his resignation.

Brown declined to discuss the situation in detail, but Hinton said he was asked to resign from the $37,000-a-year post after guards at the jail signed a petition against changes he made in work schedules.

Hinton, an executive at Bell Atlantic before he took early retirement to become the jail warden, said too much money is being spent on overtimewhen more full-time guards are needed.

Detention center guards work 14 days and have five days off, Hinton said. Under the new system Hinton proposed, guards would work five days and then have two days off.

Hinton said that while he was at the jail, guards were workingmany hours of overtime each week.

The detention center budget forfiscal 1992 includes $70,115 for overtime, said County Budget Director Steven D. Powell.

Because the jail is often short-staffed at night -- Hinton said sometimes there are only four guards watching 120 inmates -- county auditors suggested the hiring of three new guards using the overtime money to pay the salaries.

In January, Brown stunned the county commissioners by requesting a 15 percent budget increase that included 17 new positions in the Sheriff's Department.

Brown received some criticism after the request because he campaigned on a platform to reduce the scope of the sheriff's department and to save tax dollars.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said then that if the department was going to hire more people, it would have todo it without additional money.

Before his resignation, Hinton said, he wrote a memo to inform the guards of the new schedules and showed it to Brown, who approved it.

He said guards in the jail, upset by the loss of overtime pay, signed a petition against the new system and presented it to Brown.

Hinton said that rather than risk low morale among the detention center staff, Brown asked him to resign.

Brown said last week that he reinstated the former scheduling system after Hinton left.

Several guards contacted declined to talk about the scheduling or Hinton's resignation.

Hinton, who has spentthe days since his resignation "hitting the bricks" in search of a job, said he was shocked when he was asked to leave.

"I thought they wanted a manager," said Hinton, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for county commissioner last year. "A manager has to make the toughdecisions."

Brown declined to discuss Hinton's departure, but said morale at the jail has "really zoomed" since he left.

Brown saidhe made a mistake in hiring someone to run the jail who did not haveany correctional experience.

"He is a nice fellow," said Brown. "But I think I'll take a long, hard look before I make another selection. These things happen."

Brown said he would not consider returning Lt. John Stultz, the jail's warden under former Sheriff Grover N. "Sam" Sensabaugh, to the position.

He said he prefers that Stultz work on the department's budget as an administrative aide.

Brown said he will be placing an advertisement for the warden's position in the next 30 to 60 days. Until then, he said, he will "save the taxpayers some money" by not paying Hinton's salary.

"I have some very competent people over there running the jail," he said. "I'm not worried."

He said he does not have immediate plans to resolve the overtime or staffing situation.

The detention center -- which is set tobe expanded -- can hold about 120 inmates. The center has 26 full-time guards and two temporary employees.

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