You guys all have great points. I had a lot of time to think about staffing this week, when I sat by myself all week on a "two officers required policy" hospital detail. There are definatley staffing problems within most correctional facilities in this state. I had an opportunity to work with guys from the State, Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampden this week, and the same issues all came up: No time off and unsafe staffing levels. To make things worse, administrators are doing the wrong thing by cutting costs by reducing staffing in plain conflict with departmental policy. Someone is going to get hurt.
With that said, I do not fault any of the officers who serve on this Middlesex team, because if given the opportunity to do something interesting like that, I might take the chance myself. But I can tell you that that money could be better spend elsewhere. Nearly all of the funding for Sheriff's departments in this state comes from the state (notice nearly all, not all). If departments have enough fat in their budget to fund special units, then their budgets should be re-dispersed to help other departments who are struggling. Remember, this is state money now, no longer county money.
If the money from this comes from specialized grants, then the water becomes a bit murky. The jury is still out on my end, on whether Sheriff's departments should be receiving and using these grants. I haven't heard all the facts yet. However, if this money is coming out of the general operating fund, then maybe we need to find a Middlesex officer and ask him if he feels that staffing levels are safe within his facility? if he is getting his time off? or is it being denied?
I don't think anybody is in a situation in this state right now where they need to be expanding. I think someday it is possible that it will be ok for Sheriff's departments to expand into law enforcement, but only when corrections, our primary function, is being done correctly.