No confidence for Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton
The union called the vote after members complained about deteriorating work conditions, failing equipment in the jail, and forced overtime.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Metro Corrections officers who voted overwhelmingly decided they lack confidence in Director Mark Bolton.
87% of the FOP members who voted on Tuesday said they have no confidence in Bolton, a result that follows months of controversy in Louisville's jail.
No-confidence votes are largely ceremonial and do not bring about direct change.
“It's kind of a cap to [these issues],” Louisville FOP Lodge 77 President Tracy Dotson said. “We've had enough. We need to send a message and then it becomes a bigger issue.”
Here is the full ballot:
1. Do you believe that officers and inmates are currently in a safe environment at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections?
Yes: 11 percent
No.: 89 percent
2. Do you believe that there is sufficient staff to manage the working environment and complete necessary job tasks at the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections?
Yes: 7 percent
No. 93 percent
3. Do you believe that Mark Bolton puts the safety and health of his staff as a top priority by implementing safety protocols and equipment?
Yes: 12 percent
No: 88 percent
4. Do you believe that Mark Bolton follows the Collective Bargaining Agreement and its terms as negotiated between the Fraternal Order of Police and Metro Government?
Yes: 12 percent
No: 88 percent
5. Do you believe that Mark Bolton is an effective leader of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections?
Yes: 12 percent
No: 88 percent
6. Overall, as an employee of Louisville Metro Corrections, do you have confidence in the leadership of Mark Bolton?
Yes: 13 percent
No: 87 percent
On Wednesday morning, Bolton issued a lengthy statement in response to the vote. That statement is reproduced in full below:
As I understand yesterday’s vote, approximately 100 current officers turned out to vote of the 420+ filled sworn positions. Further, it is my understanding the FOP Corrections Union did not limit the right to vote to current employees but invited former employees, including those who had been fired for misconduct for their vote too. It has also been conveyed that apparently voters were not required to place their signature on the multi-question ballot and some votes were accepted by phone.
Despite these oddities and am appreciative of the double digit support, I respect the men and women who are employed here and will continue to address the concerns that led to yesterday’s vote. Whether the number is 400, 100 or 10, the Union has a right to voice their opinion and they have done that. Sure I make unpopular decisions – including decisions that end a person’s employment - that’s part of leadership. Those tough decisions were the right decisions. I did not take this job (approaching 9 years) to win a popularity contest. I took this job to be part of a progressive jail system and serve a key role in the local criminal justice arena. Accomplishments like ACA Core Standards, NCCHC and PREA accreditation support that. However, some criminal justice challenges, like the size of the inmate population and the number of finite beds, are out of my control.
This vote also comes at a time when officers, their families, and some community voices too, are frustrated because of a record number of inmates in custody and the amount of forced overtime hours Corrections Officers must work to manage the large inmate population. I do not make the decisions about who is committed to this jail; what medical or mental health crisis those persons bring with them to jail, or who get released from this jail. I do have a constitutional obligation to accept them, protect them and provide care, custody and control of every inmate the police bring regardless of the inmate charges or the inmate’s chronic or acute medical or mental health condition(s). I will do my job and I will not compromise integrity or the safety of our jail facilities over popularity.
I have worked to improve officer safety and have fought for improved technology to help such as detention grade body scanners that detect items arrestees try to smuggle contraband in a body cavity; a million dollar, multi-year, phased-in digital security camera upgrade that replaced an existing dull and analog camera system; and over the past three years I invested in the roll out of Corrections Officer body cameras. And there is more to come; some of which you may like, some of which you may not.
I have been in this business long enough – over 38 years – I understand that criticism should promote healthy review. I intend to examine the underpinning of this vote and find real areas of improvement that we can all work on. I invite all employees of Metro Corrections to get back to job #1 – the care, custody and control of the inmate population and the safety of staff, contractors and volunteers in support of our mission.
Mark E. Bolton, Director
Louisville Metro Department of Corrections
When the union first announced it would holding a no-confidence vote, jail spokesman Steve Durham released the following statement.
“Director Bolton and his team are resolute in responding in a transparent fashion with both the internal and external environment as it relates to public safety on those challenges that are under our direct control and the majority of which require stakeholder participation. Director Bolton and his team look forward to meeting the challenges ahead."
The vote also comes in the wake of a pending audit to determine how much money the overcrowded jail is costing taxpayers. In recent weeks, Metro Corrections has housed as many as 2,500, which is about 700 over capacity.
Dotson won't say how many officers voted.
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