April 01, 2020

Sheriff chooses county jail administrator

ROCKLAND – The search for a Knox County Jail administrator may be over.

Sheriff Daniel Davey has chosen Richard Robbins of Warren to fill the post. The job has been vacant since June when Maj. David Lovejoy resigned to take a position with the state Department of Corrections.

On Wednesday, commissioners are expected to act on the sheriff’s latest nomination. The board will also be asked to consider an increase in the proposed salary for Robbins.

In October, the search was made longer when commissioners slashed the pay of the then-nominee and he withdrew his acceptance of the job.

At that time, the sheriff had selected former jail Sgt. David Hooper for administrator, but commissioners reduced the amount of pay from what was budgeted.

Hooper expected to earn $36,062 to start, which would have increased to $37,500 in January. However, commissioners decided that he lacked the same level of experience as the previous jail administrator and cut the pay to $34,259. Hooper would have earned $36,062 at the beginning of the new year.

Now, the proposed 2001 salary for jail administrator is $36,062, which is the amount offered to Robbins, Davey said Monday. Yet, Robbins has requested a greater amount of pay, citing the level of responsibility, the sheriff said.

Although Robbins does not have jail experience at the position, he was a Maine State Prison guard for 18 years and worked several years as a state probation and parole officer. For about a year, he was the prosecutorial assistant for the district attorney here.

Robbins could not be reached Monday for comment.

Davey plans to encourage commissioners to make the annual pay $39,000 for the top administrative post at the facility, which is designed to house 49 inmates. The administrator manages about 34 full-time employees and approximately 10 part-time workers.

After doing a statewide comparison with other jail administrators’ salaries, Davey said the amount he is requesting is “nothing outrageous.”

The increased salary “only makes sense to attract capable and qualified personnel to maintain the credibility that is demanded of jail operations,” he said.

In reviewing statewide pay for jail administrators, Davey found that at Cumberland County Jail in Portland, the administrator earned $60,654 in 2000, the highest in the state. At Lincoln County Jail in Wiscasset, the top jailer earned $44,000, and at Waldo County Jail in Belfast, the administrator’s salary was $27,817.

In averaging statewide salaries, Davey came up with a figure of $38,044 for this year and added a 3 percent pay raise for 2001, making the average pay $39,185 next year.

“We’ve been searching for a long time,” Davey said, noting that “really experienced jail administrators are hard to find.”

In choosing Robbins, Davey said, he wanted to bring in someone new, who would be fair and impartial.

The sheriff credited the work of Lt. Kathy Wyman, who has been acting jail administrator since June.

“The acting jail administrator has picked up the slack,” Davey said. “She’s done a very good job.”

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