Too many inmates and not enough jailers. That's the problem the Lubbock county sheriff's department is facing right now. And the problem is expected to get worse when the new jail is built.
Right now sheriff's deputies are working double shifts and hundreds of hours of overtime just to fill the shortage of employees. As of today, the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office is short 16 jailers and 9 law enforcement officers. Combine that number with the 70 officers the county will need when the new jail is built, and the shortage becomes a major problem for our community.
"It's essential that we look to the future. Because of our growth we're expecting to have a new detention center facility coming online in 2 years and I must have professional trained leaders and staff to meet those challenges," stated Lubbock County Sheriff, David Guiterrez. Guiterrez can think about the future but he is still faced with the problem at hand and that's finding enough qualified staff to answer the call of duty.
"This year we have processed 628 applicants, interviewed 80, trimmed down and brought on 53," said Guiterrez.
Only about 15-percent of applicants make it to the interview, and only about 10-percent get hired. Then there's the training process that could take anywhere from two weeks to nine months.
With the new facility opening in 2 years, that's a tight deadline to get fully staffed. "I've spoken with several of our commissioners to inform them of our shortages and as the budget process comes around again, I'm already briefing them on our situation," explained Guiterrez.
Here's what that situation looks like for the new facility if it were at full capacity. The jail commission requires one jailer for every 48 inmates, so if we take the minimum requirements times four shifts, you need 112 jailers. But you also have to add relief staff for things like vacations and sick days. That adds 20 more people to the equation. Add on the additional staff needed to operate the facility and the total number comes to 183 people. If the county had to open the new jail today, it would be short staffed by 70, a number the sheriff says is unacceptable.
While building an 83-million dollar facility, challenges will be faced. But the Sheriff hopes that the hiring process will open many doors of opportunity. "You'll never get rich doing this work, but there's a lot of gratitude in public service work," affirmed Guiterrez.
The next Lubbock Sheriff's Office academy will begin January ninth, but the Lubbock County Sheriff's office is already actively recruiting jailers and law enforcement officers. If you're interested, you can visit the sheriff's office or call human resources at (806) 775-1691 .
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