ALAMANCE COUNTY, NC – The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office is in desperate need of more officers to work in its detention center – officials say a significant staff shortage is beginning to affect employee morale.
In the next few weeks, the department will be rolling out billboards, fliers, and tv commercials to increase recruitment.
Kirk Puckett with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office says finding people who want to work in the jail is not easy.
Detention officers work inside during the entirety of their 12 hour shifts.
Puckett says the job also has the potential to be dangerous trying to keep control of inmates day and night.
When they’re short staffed, Puckett says it’s hard for employees to take time off without affecting their co-workers and that’s starting to take a toll.
“If you've worked your four day shift and at the beginning of the next shift, it's your five-year-old's birthday and you want to be off that day but because of a staffing shortage, your supervisor says ‘no I'm sorry you can't do that.’ You kind of have to know internally that takes an impact on you," said Puckett.
To compensate for being understaffed at the detention center, Puckett says the department has been offering overtime pay for employees who are willing come in on their day off but it hasn't been working.
Puckett says the staff shortage has not gotten bad enough to the point that it's affecting safety at the detention center.
“Certainly our guys don’t have the freedoms or the luxuries to take breaks as frequently as they would like to when you’re at minimal staffing,” said Puckett. “Everybody is on duty. Everybody is safe. The inmates are safe and so are the staff.”
Over the next few weeks, ACSO will be putting up two billboards in the county and airing approximately 800 television commercials to try to recruit new officers to join their team.
The department will also be using more traditional methods like attending job fairs and handing out fliers.
“The rewards would come in the fact that you’re not doing the same thing every day,” said Puckett. “Law enforcement or detention is simply not a mundane type of job. You’re running in to different people and different types of situations and different scenarios daily. Boredom does not sit in.”
Alamance County currently needs 14 new officers in its detention center to get back to full staff.
They’re not the only ones facing a shortage — it’s happening all over including Guilford County where Col. Randy Powers says the department needs 22 detention officers between the Greensboro and High Point facilities.
To increase recruitment there, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office offers bonuses to new hires and to current employees who recruit new hires.
The average starting salary for a detention officer is about $35,000 per year plus benefits.
For information on how to apply, visit the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office website.