Charleston County Jail down 83 officers, officials call it a crisis

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County Sheriff's Office says there is a severe shortage of officers at the county detention center.

The jail is down 83 officers.

Officials say the shortage is causing employees to work longer hours.

"When we have that many people down and we're working people as many hours as we are it is a crisis," Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas said Thursday.

Lucas said there are several reasons for the shortage.

One reason is that it's difficult for the jail to compete with other companies that offer higher pay and better hours.

Lucas said the starting pay for jail officers is about $31,000 a year.

He said another possible reason is it's not a glamorous job.

Dispatchers, EMS, firefighters, police are all heroes in books and TV and movies. The guys who work in jails and prisons, not so much," Lucas said.

Lucas said he can't move deputies who work on the road to the jail because the office also has a shortage of deputies on the road.

"It's not even a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Peter doesn't have enough money to pay Paul," Lucas said.

The officer shortage also is hitting county taxpayers hard in their pocketbooks.

The sheriff's office says since 2014, they've paid $8.6 million for overtime at the jail.

"That is unavoidable," Lucas said.

Lucas said the sheriff's office is advertising for the officer openings online, on billboards and on buses.

He said an open house is being planned for people who may be interested in working at the jail.

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