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Bexar County Sheriff’s Office gets approval for 140,000 overtime hours for jail deputies

BCSO got approval to spend over $5.6 million for overtime for five months, the latest of multiple requests made this fiscal year.

Continuing to cite COVID-19, a crowded jail, and staffing issues, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office got more money from the county for its overtime budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously approved 140,000 hours to cover overtime worked from May 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022.

“It is a lot of hours, but when you’re trying to fairly compensate your deputies for something that’s beyond our control…to spend time guarding an inmate population that should not be in the county jail, then we need to compensate them for it,” Sheriff Salazar told KENS 5.

According to documents, the sheriff’s office will exceed its overtime budget by $5.2 million at the current burn rate, using 335,629 hours costing an estimated $13.4 million for the 2022 fiscal year.

“I’d love to not be up here…that’s something for the last 12 years has continued to be an issue,” Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said to County Commissioners in Tuesday’s meeting.

Sheriff Salazar told KENS 5 that there are 795 inmates in the jail waiting to be transferred to other facilities. Some inmates are waiting to be transferred to state prison and others are waiting for mental health beds to open.

“I understand they’re starting to pick up again, but I really wish they’d go about it quicker,” Sheriff Salazar says he’s also sent some letters to state leaders venting his frustration with the overcrowded jail, which has more than 4,500 inmates this year.

During April’s commissioner's court meeting, the county approved more than 67,000 hours of mandatory overtime between March 5 to May 20. That funding request exhausted the remaining approved jail overtime budget, and the hours requested were exhausted the week of April 30, according to county documents.

The county is hoping the long-awaited findings of two jail consultants--one hired by former County Commissioner Trish DeBerry and one hired by the Sheriff's office--will present some solutions to the jail issues.

“It should be one of the most comprehensive looks in a number of years at the detention issues," Commissioner Tommy Calvert said.

The county also hopes to address the long-term effects of mental health patients taking up beds in the jail. The Texas Legislature approved building a new 300-bed hospital on the San Antonio State Hospital grounds, and the county has paid $200,000 for a study to see how the vacated buildings could be used to house patients or inmates with mental health issues.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Salazar has sent letters to the state asking when they can expect additional transport of inmates.

"My deputies...they're exhausted from 12 years of having worked overtime. And it's just getting worse and worse and worse because all levels of government have failed them at every turn," Sheriff Salazar said.

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