Union president: Allegheny County Jail understaffed at a dangerous level

An ongoing dispute at the Allegheny County Jail -- corrections officers versus the jail management -- lead to both sides issuing statements on Sunday.

The president of the union that represents the officers claimed that the jail doesn’t have enough workers for the third week in a row.

President Brian Englert sent the following statement out about the staffing issues himself and other employees are allegedly facing at the jail:

“Today the jail is short staffed again for the third week in a row. The second shift is short seven hallway escorts and an intake Officer. The County continues to pay overtime for an Officer to staff the employee lounge because the vendor, Summit, can’t fulfill their contract and provide employees. This has cost taxpayers over $175,000 since last March. Lack of staffing is dangerous for the inmates in the jail, due to lack of Officer response during an inmate altercation. It’s also dangerous because we have significantly fewer Officers to respond to inmate on inmate or inmate on Officer assaults. I requested that the jail be locked down for the shift, through chain of command. This was denied by Major Fred Young.”

The president of the corrections officers’ union appeared on PCNC’s “Pittsburgh Now” last month, after a “no confidence” vote against the warden, saying jail workers are overworked and understaffed. Days later, jail warden Orlando Harper defended his administration.

The jail issued its own statement Sunday, claiming they have enough workers:

“Mr. Englert is a CO and doesn’t make decisions on staffing. We have appropriate staffing in place and would not put anyone’s safety in jeopardy. His claims to the contrary, however, do exactly that.

We continue to recruit and seek individuals who are interested in serving as corrections officers to increase the complement of staff and welcome anyone interested to visit the county website or to register for the upcoming virtual job fair at https://www.vfairs.com/solutions/virtual-career-fair/

A lot of back and forth is taking place between the two parties, and it seems an agreement on the best course of action might take some time.

Stay with Channel 11 as we continue to follow this developing situation.

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