Barren County Jailer Matt Mutter is more than grateful to the many people who have supported him in his career and sometimes is even a little emotional about it.
“First and foremost, I want to thank my family and friends …,” Mutter began his press conference Wednesday morning to announce his candidacy for re-election as jailer. He paused, started to speak again, paused and then excused himself for a minute or two. Resuming, he extended thanks to “everyone who supported me for the last 21 years.”
“I’ve been in charge of the Barren County Detention Center since July of 2008,” he said. “A lot of changes have taken place in that time. Out of 31 employees that we have, 20 of them were hired by me since July of ‘08. I … (emotional pause). I would put you all up against anybody in this state.”
He said he didn’t think it would be that tough to get through his speech, and he borrowed a quote from a from friend, noting his staff members – a significant portion of whom were in the audience – are the ones who make him look good.
“Three years ago, I promised that I would do everything in my power to make this place more self-sufficient, and we have done that. We’ve accomplished that goal. Notice I said ‘we.’ This is by no means a one-man show. We accomplished that goal with hard work and determination. … The Barren County Detention Center also has near-perfect inspections and audits year after year. As I said time and time again, this doesn’t happen by accident. This is the result of dedication and commitment by jail employees,” Mutter said. “I am extremely proud of this place and the changes that have been made over the last few years. With the help of my deputies and the citizens of Barren County, we will continue to build on what we already have in motion. Today, I’m announcing my bid for re-election to office as Barren County jailer.”
He continued, with elaboration.
“We have come so far over the last few years and we have so much momentum moving in the right direction – our training programs, our professionalism, finances, budget, work crews, you name it. They’re all better than they’ve ever been. Nobody can dispute that,” he said. “But, as with many things, we have the potential to be even better. When I first took over as jailer, I heard the same phrase over and over and over. ‘That’s the way we’ve always done it.’ I’m so sick and tired of hearing that phrase. This is not 1983. It’s not 1993. It’s not 2003. This is 2013, and we are in the newest jail in the state of Kentucky. The only measuring stick that we have to compare ourselves to is other jails, and I can tell you right now that we are in the top echelon – some of you have been to other jails, you know what I’m talking about. Other jails have come to see our jail, to see how we run our operation. And that makes me proud. Some counties have even brought their entire fiscal court here, the magistrates, judge, jailer, everybody, to see our facility.”
Mutter said he takes pride in being accessible, giving out his cell phone number and adding that it “rings around the clock, but that’s fine.”
“A couple of years ago, an inmate said to me, ‘Man, you’re running this place like a jail.’ That was probably the best compliment I’ve received in my 21-year career,” said Mutter, a U.S. Navy veteran who was a deputy jailer from 1992-94, a Glasgow Police Department officer from 1994 to 2002 and Barren County Sheriff’s Office deputy from 2002 to 2010. He was appointed as acting jailer in 2008 and then jailer in 2010, and he began his elected term in office in January 2011.
“A person cannot be in law enforcement as long as I have and not make a few enemies along the way. I never considered myself to be much of a politician – sometimes I don’t even think the office of jailer should be an elected position – but I will not apologize for the way we run this jail to anybody,” Mutter said. “When I’m elected for a second term, we’re going to continue to focus on making this place, this jail more self-sufficient and make the citizens of Barren County even more proud.”
Responding to media questions, he said his biggest challenge is “knowing that we’re doing an awesome job here and that I have a good staff, and that there are a few people out there that continually tear us down. And these are people who have no idea what we do inside this building, they have no idea about the operation that we run. We try to be as open and transparent as we possibly can to everybody up here, and I just wish I had more cooperation from other people sometimes.”
After a brief pause, he added, “Now don’t get me wrong, I have had a lot of good cooperation from a lot of people, but it seems like there’s just a few that cause some friction.”
He acknowledged it seems to be the same ones continually.
“It’s nothing new. It’s no secret. It’s been publicized and it’s been in the media for the last few years now.”
Regarding the turnover rate, Mutter said: “It wasn’t something I set out to do, intentionally. It just kind of built up over the years. And our turnover rate has almost stopped now. It has completely turned around. When I first took over, our turnover rate was, it was just really high, but now it’s gotten better. And I think it’s had a lot to do with the new facility too, a lot better working conditions.”
Mutter outlined the management structure.
“Certain issues I delegate to other people, such as chief deputy, Tracy Bellamy, and I have one sergeant for each shift, and those people report to me. Whether it’s 9 o’clock in the morning or midnight, they call me if it’s a situation they can’t handle, then I’m here,” he said, confirming he is aware of decisions made.
With regard to priorities, he reiterated he wanted to continue with the current momentum, and one specific thing he wants to do is have more inmates on work details.
“Last year was the first year we were in the black, you know, that’s been publicized at fiscal court meetings, as far as our finances, and we’re going to continue on that, because with the state inmates we have now, it can only get better,” Mutter said. “As far as being self-sustaining, paying our own bills, we operate on a right around $2 million budget every year, right now we’re bringing in $1.5 million a year, just on state inmates alone. That shows how close we are to being self-sustaining, and we have other income coming in, other revenue as well, to get us right up there to $2 million mark, and we’re very, very close.”
Mutter said he is confident in his re-election.
“There’s no other candidate that can say they have the experience I do or the knowledge, the connections with people in the Department of Corrections to get things done, to get things accomplished. We’ve made a name for ourself with the Department of Corrections,” he said.
The Barren County native also provided a packet of information with his work history; a list of several community organization memberships and achievements; a list of 34 subject areas studied in more than 300 hours of training since 2009; a list of law enforcement training areas, noting his 1994 graduation from the Department of Criminal Justice Training; and details of his military history.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the only person to officially file to run for the jailer position was Rickey Spillman, the current District 2 magistrate, who is Republican. Mutter is a Democrat.
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