Guest Editorial: Detention Center needs more staff, better pay, return of Ms. Lawson

I am appealing to the administration and council on behalf of myself and the Fairfield County Detention Center staff.


The county is about to receive the second part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, and I notice that none of it has been allocated to the Detention Center which is understaffed and underpaid.

That ARP funding could be useful to compensate more officers in our facility. I have watched this council waste money on campaign projects to help themselves be re-elected, when that money could be spent more beneficially to provide us enough staffing to keep us and the detainees safe. 

On July 20, I and all but two of my coworkers signed a petition to Fairfield County Administrator Malik Whitaker with detailed concerns for more staff.

We still have not heard anything back from him. Councilman Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert are the only council members who have responded with concerns for us.

When our former director, Ms. Lawson, stated that our facility is in a crash and burn state, she was absolutely right. We work in conditions daily that no one wants to hear or talk about. I agree with her that our county administration is ineffective, unprofessional, uncaring and unreachable.

I am desperately seeking for us to be granted a better working environment, more workers, increased pay and the return of our director Teresa Lawson.

On Friday, July 22, only three officers – no men – were present in the building when a code red was called. Luckily, Human Resources Director Brad Caulder came in. If more detainees had been out at the time of the fight, I can imagine the outcome – this was a point Ms. Lawson was trying to make. This job is dangerous and unsafe when it is not adequately staffed, as ours is not right now.

Councilmen, please see that our facility needs sufficient staff to operate safely and effectively. We need more officers, increased pay, a better working environment and support from Fairfield County administration.

Malik Whitaker stated that a deputy director would assist with current staffing concerns, provide additional leadership and develop a long range recruitment plan for employees.

We already have a captain position which is the same as a deputy director, just a different title. We need more floor staff to deal with day to day crisis.

Having a captain, a deputy director and a director makes no sense when we don’t have adequate floor staff.  We hope you hear our pleas.

Ms. Cook is a detention officer at the Fairfield County Detention Center


  1. Mike Bell (NO RELATON TO MOSES) says

    Ms. Cook
    Well said!!! and we are very fortunate to a leader like Brad Caulder who don’t think he is to good to come to the detention center like whitaker and williams (not capitalized because of no respect for They). This show that Brad cares about his employees and will help them when needed. Just like he helped the employees who worked for Diane Robertson when they came to him. But this Administration and Council only CARES about themselves and the money they can bleed out of the county. Conti…….

    As a correctional professional myself years ago, always protect yourself and the staff. If you are out numbered and inmates are fighting just get out and lock the door. The matter will come to an end trust me , call the Sheriff office & EMS for help if they have enough staff to help. Finally, write your report to say Fairfield County Council & Administration knows there is not enough staff to be effective and protect staff and inmates. Just let the insurance company pay settlements to the victims families but they will have to sue NOT like Robertson. Another $450,000.00 per inmate claim.

    Be safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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