SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Staff shortages in local jails and prisons is a well-documented concern, and it’s something most departments are struggling with.
“We’re talking about that because that could be a huge influx of individuals inside of our detention facility that is going to realize their goal,” says Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter.
It’s why many people become a detention deputy, to rise up the ranks, says Sheriff Jeff Easter.
“Which is great, but could leave us with big openings if the Wichita Police Department decides to hire several people out of the jail,” says Easter.
It is something that weighs on his mind because staffing a jail is difficult.
“You know the biggest challenge is having personnel to even work in here. We basically have roughly 70 deputies per shift.”
It could get more difficult in the near future. Recently, Wichita’s police chief presented his case to hire nearly 50 more police officers.
If Chief Gordon Ramsay gets his way then it could mean Sheriff Easter’s experienced deputies apply for those positions, and Easter says it comes at a bad time.
“We start losing more people and that is going to be very devastating because we have 22 pods that we have to fill,” says Easter.
Right now, the sheriff’s office has 37 detention deputy positions to fill, and to get the job done the sheriff says many of them are pulling lots of overtime to tend to the nearly 1200 inmates.
“That is the thing I am most concerned about is our people and how they are reacting to situations because of lack of sleep and because of irritability, those types of things.”
He says if they lose more deputies and can’t fill the positions, it could be something that ends up costing the county,
“If we don’t have the personnel in here to staff, we are going to have to ship more people out of county, which then is an additional cost to the county,” says Easter.
Help is on the way though, the sheriff’s office right now is has a class of 15 detention deputies in training right now,
This marks the second class that will be graduating in recent months.