WHERE IS THE FACILITY’S “MANPOWER SHORTAGE” COMING FROM?
Last week reporter Tim Flach The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper ran a big story on budget problems at the Lexington County, S.C. detention center – which until recently was named for former sheriff James Metts (who is currently doing a year of hard time at a federal prison in North Carolina).
According to Flach’s report, Lexington County was going to have to start charging municipalities a fee (perhaps as much as $25 per day) to incarcerate the individuals they arrested.
Why? An alleged manpower shortage created by dwindling state revenue.
Specifically, a sheriff’s office spokesperson told Flach as many as “60 new guards” would be needed in the coming years.
We’re told there’s an interesting twist to this story …
According to sources familiar with the situation, in recent months more than sixty jail employees “have quit over low wages, promises of a big raise that they didn’t get and poor work conditions.”
Is this where the “manpower shortage” is really coming from?
Whatever caused the issue, it’s reportedly having an impact on the ability of sheriff Jay Koon‘s agency to perform its public safety duties.
“This exodus has caused the new sheriff to pull road deputies off regular patrol to work in the jail,” one source told us.
This has led to fewer officers on the road, longer response times and lower morale among officers, we’re told.
Not good …
Lexington County is struggling to rebuild its public image following the exposure of the so-called “Lexington Ring,” a cabal of crooked cops and corrupt politicians who were accused of running all manner of rackets in the county. Given the limited accountability in that case, it’s safe to say the county’s margin for error is limited moving forward.
As we’ve consistently stated, law enforcement is a core function of government – and we aggressively support its full funding. That includes modern jails that are well-equipped and staffed at proper levels with trained, well-compensated professionals.
Unfortunately, because local governments in South Carolina blow so much money on non-core functions, they often find themselves having to assess new fees to cover the things they should be subsidizing with recurring money out of existing budgets.
Any way you cut it, it’s a mess … with both rank-and-file law enforcement (and the people they are charged with protecting) suffering as a result.
UPDATE: We’ve spoken with an independent source who tells us the jail is “down 40” employees. And while deputies are being pulled in to supplement jail staff, we’re informed they are coming in on their “off days for overtime pay.”