SAN ANTONIO — A report on conditions at the Bexar County Jail has been released. The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office sent the report on Friday, which displays many of the problems KENS 5 has reported on in the past.
Sixty pages describe the problems with overtime, understaffing and overpopulation, but also presents some solutions.
The firm Detain INC says it interviewed jail command staff and compiled data from the sheriff’s office for their report. The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County is open to the suggestions made to improve conditions at the jail.
“As long as I can remember, we’ve always had issues with retaining our employees, especially over the last 10 years,” said Ron Took, president of the sheriff’s deputies union.
According to the report, Bexar County’s pay ranked sixth behind other major Texas regions, including Harris, Dallas and Travis counties.
“I’ve seen guys leave patrol division to go work for the Department of Public Safety for triple the pay,” Took said.
The report suggests increasing pay 15 to 20% and adding sign-on bonuses to recruit talent, which the sheriff’s office says it has done.
The firm also recommends making a schedule change: 12-hour shifts and four-to-five days a week.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar says he’s discussed rolling out the changes in phases.
“I don’t feel comfortable pulling the trigger with the whole facility just yet. We’re going to try it with the smallest facility, see what happens with it, and possibly implement it county-wide. Or we may just leave it there in one facility,” Salazar said.
It could cut down on jail overtime, which has climbed up to an estimated 369,000 hours last year.
According to the report, an average of 150 to 175 inmates in the jail await transport to state-run facilities. The report suggests the county create its own competency restoration program for mentally ill inmates awaiting trial.
According to Sheriff Salazar, a consultant has completed its analysis of an old state hospital in Bexar County that could house up to 100 inmates. He says he plans to meet to discuss plans for that proposed facility.
BCSO officials say the report's findings were collected over six months and cost $49,980 out of their asset and forfeiture fund. According to Bexar County, their study costs a little over $19,000.
Took hopes some of those changes could be made soon as he feels the jail deputies deserve the help.
“These people are fantastic, how they manage their job and their family at the same time, really toeing the line, they really are, because there is going to be a point in time – if we don’t do something about this – where that jail is going to implode,” Took said.
The report has to be formally presented to county commissioners before any action can be taken. Meanwhile, Bexar County leaders have commissioned their own audit and are waiting for those findings to be released.