Moffat jail presses charges vs. inmate

A woman who was being booked into the Moffat County Jail early Thursday morning is being charged with assaulting a detention officer.

The Moffat County Sheriff's department filed a charge of second-degree assault on a peace officer against Laura Skufca, who was arrested at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday on a warrant out of Routt County. Skufca is wanted on a $500 bond for failure to appear in court.

Detention officer Elizabeth Campbell was fingerprinting Skufca when the woman allegedly scratched the officer on her arm and above her upper lip, Jail Administrator Lt. Dean Herndon said.

Campbell was not taken to the hospital, he said, and the incident has been recorded on videotape, which will be turned over for investigation.

Herndon said the jail was almost filled to capacity with 83 inmates Thursday morning when the incident took place. The jail has 88 beds. Two detention officers usually handle booking procedures, but the jail was short-staffed Thursday morning, with only Campbell to process inmates and one other employee in master control. Master control is a mandatory position that requires an officer to watch inmates' activities 24 hours a day in most parts of the jail, Herndon said.

Skufca was held down in a restraint chair for three hours before booking, because she "wouldn't cooperate," Herndon said.

Herndon said the jail is generally quiet at night, but more help is needed when officers try to book someone who is acting violently.

"If we had one more officer from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. it would be wonderful," he said. "Generally, it's quiet at night, but we get the occasional person who is violent and belligerent. The problem is, we don't have the funding to have more officers at night."

Herndon said an increase in the amount of inmates who are being transferred from the Department of Corrections increases the need for heightened security in the jail.

As an example, 13 additional DOC inmates were turned away from the Moffat County Jail on Thursday because it was filled, he said.

Technically the jail should be staffed with four officers on duty each shift, Herndon said.

Of the jail's 16 officers, four are master control technicians. When officers are scarce, jail administration sometimes works as detention officers.

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