Plans to open new jail pod moving slowly

Staffing levels remain too low to meet facility needs.

When the third pod would open remains unknown, said sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dave Duchak.

“I am confident we will get there,” he said.

Each of the facility’s four available pods can hold up to 60 inmates. Two pods now in use hold nonviolent male inmates. The third would be for nonviolent female inmates. Because of a shortage of housing for females at the county’s downtown Troy jail, the commission has contracted with Shelby County to house up to 15 females a day since August 2014.

“We want to get the pod open as fast as anyone else. We want to make sure it is done right,” Duchak said.

Commission President Richard Cultice wished Duchak luck in continued hiring efforts. “It has taken a lot longer than I think you thought,” Cultice said.

The sheriff’s department has been successful in finding eight new hires for the jobs this year, but has also experienced turnover equal to the number of new hires. One correction officer retired, five took other jobs in law enforcement and two took jobs outside law enforcement.

The department started the year with 44 correction officers and now has 44, Duchak said. Fifty correction officers are needed to be able to open the third pod, Duchak said.

He said the hiring challenges are widespread in law enforcement due to retirements of officers and agencies hiring to fill positions cut during the recession.

The sheriff’s office has been able to meet female housing needs with the cooperation of the municipal court and area law enforcement who don’t jail nonviolent female offenders, instead issuing a summons to appear in court, Duchak said. Cultice asked if the county needed to ask Shelby County if it could offer more beds for female inmates. Duchak said that option had not been presented to the municipal court judges.

Cultice asked what more could be done to try to retain employees once hired. Duchak said pay could always be better but the county’s pay is in line with other counties its size.

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