WICHITA, Kansas – Sedgwick County is looking for jailers at the detention facility.
Currently, the jail has 40 open positions.
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Captain Jared Schechter says the vacancy has steadily increased since 2009, when the jail was last fully staffed.
“We’re working our folks to death basically,” Sheriff Jeff Easter told KSN in a sit down interview.
Currently, jailers are having to work mandatory overtime to keep the jail safe and “fully manned.”
“Right now, it’s very hard to manage the staffing levels we’re at and it’s causing a lot of stress, a lot of morale issues, and it’s just not good for our employees to be working that much in this environment,” said Sheriff Easter.
Sheriff Easter told KSN that although safety is not ‘compromised,’ the shortage has strained the department’s resources.
“We still staff every pod. Every pod has a deputy in it to make sure that we are keeping our deputies safe and also the inmates safe,” explained Sheriff Easter.
KSN wanted to get to the bottom of what’s caused the jailer shortage.
Sheriff Easter cited deputy retention, a stricter hiring process, and pay as three primary reasons for the decline in jailer population.
1. Deputy Retention
“We have so many folks that go on and prosper by being commissioned law enforcement officers,” said Easter. “We lose a lot of people because this is a stepping stone for them to come in, to do corrections, to work in a jail, to get their foot in the door for a law enforcement career on the commission side,” he continued.
Seven jailers recently left to work for the Wichita Police Department.
2. A Stricter Hiring Process
This reportedly includes a new required polygraph exam, as well as command staff interviews.
“Those are checks and balances, because if they can’t make it through those, I don’t think people want them being in law enforcement,” said Easter. “Once you make it through that process, you’re going to be a worthy member of the sheriff’s office and we’ll do a good job for the citizens of Sedgwick County,” he said.
3. Competitive Pay
The Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office is working to correct this issue. Next month, wages are increasing for detention deputies nearly $2 to $15.49 per hour, plus benefits.
The current shortage comes with a hefty price tag for taxpayers.
“Yes, we’re saving money from a salary saving standpoint, because we don’t have 42 positions, but how much are we paying in overtime?” asked Easter. “Which probably is more than would cost us to staff 42 positions,” he added.
That is why the sheriff’s office is working to get people interested in the open positions and urge people to apply.
“You have a complete career path right here and open positions,” said Lt. David Mattingly, with the Special Projects Unit for the department.
The tentative date the sheriff’s office hopes to begin the next recruitment class is July 28. The goal is to hire 24 deputies for the class.
If hired, the new deputies will go through an 11 week training at the academy, followed by 8 weeks of field training.
Officials say a high school diploma or GED equivalent is required for the job.
Applicants must be 19 years old.
Applicants must also have their record/background considered in the hiring process.
To apply, go to HREPartners.com or contact the Training Academy at 316-660-3800.