|Deputies' Union Official Warns Of Impending Staffing Crisis In The Jails|
|Written by Steve Remige|
Depending on who you believe, deputies working at the Bauchet Street facilities just lost the equivalent of 350 positions. That’s more than ten percent of the total number of sworn personnel assigned to three of our jails.
I say “the equivalent” because those jobs existed but the deputies to fill them did not. The Sheriff’s Dept. wisely budgeted for the positions to help put an end to the violent riots that erupted in our custody facilities in January 2006.
The extra personnel provided enhanced oversight of the most violent inmates, thereby eliminating the opportunity for those inmates to injure each other or jail staff.
The increase in staffing levels successfully stopped the violence. Unfortunately, the increase in staffing came largely from overtime for our deputies. Our members didn’t complain – overtime is great for the paycheck, but it’s difficult to sustain double shifts year in and year out.
Overtime cannot solve this problem permanently, but it can provide an important bridge while the department hires more deputies.
It’s been a year since the jail riots, and nearly a year since our new contract provided competitive starting salaries to recruit more deputies to join our ranks.
But our commanders were wrong when they said we would be back up to full strength by now. Overtime costs have gone through the roof and some facilities are 350 deputies short of safe staffing levels.
Without enough sworn personnel, violent inmates will seize every opportunity to be violent. Even if we do the best job possible to provide a safe environment in the jails, deputies, non-sworn staff and inmates will still get hurt.