Charleston Co. jail facing officer shortage, forced to pay overtime

VIDEO: Charleston Co. jail facing officer shortage, forced to pay overtime

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A severe shortage of officers at the Charleston County Detention Center is forcing current officers to work overtime to watch over the inmates.

Jail officials say they have 60 openings for officer and another 25 are on sick leave or family medical leave.

Administrator Chief Willis Beatty says it difficult to find people who want to work at the detention center.

"They have no weapons to defend themselves except their mouth. They have to communicate with individuals and have to talk through things and that's not a big thing some people want to do," Beatty said.

Beatty says the law dictates there has to be one detention officer for 64 inmates in a housing unit.

The officer shortage is forcing everyone to work longer hours.

"We're so short staffed we're on mandatory overtime," Beatty explained. "They're required to basically work two mandatory days a pay period just to cover those vacancies to keep positions covered."

The overtime is taking a toll on officers.

"It's pulling away from your family, pulling away from other things. You're making more money but unfortunately you're not able to enjoy it because you're working a lot," officer Shanequa Rivers said.

"I'm here more than I'm home some days," Officer Elizabeth Sena said.

Jail officials are hoping to fill the 60 vacancies by going to job fairs and advertising the openings on line.

The starting salary for a detention officer is $30,000 a year.