Staffing shortage and more violent offenders are challenges Sedgwick County Jail deputies face

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Two Sedgwick County detention deputies are recovering following an attack with a metal shank.

Now, one colonel is raising the alarm and says a staffing shortage and court delays lead to more violence in the jail. That colonel said there are more violent criminals in jail than ever before because of delays in court cases. At the same time, the county has more than 85 openings at the jail.

“Two years ago, we were dealing with 50 people in custody from murder. Any given time today, we have 121 in custody for murder, so it is a much more violent population,” said Colonel Jared Schechter.

Colonel Schechter said that violence was on display Wednesday night when an inmate got aggressive.

“Initially, the inmate appears cooperative and was walking with them. When they got into the cell to change him out, he pushed against deputies as they were turning out of the cell,” said Colonel Schechter.

That’s when Schechter said the inmate being held on attempted murder pulled a handmade weapon out of an alleged brace he was wearing and swung at three staff members, injuring two of them.

“He didn’t actually make full contact with him, but he slashed at them, and there was a struggle that ensued to try to get the weapon from him with the inmate in order to gain control of him,” said Colonel Schechter.

“The jail is dealing with a perfect storm. Not enough staff members plus our deputies over there aren’t armed, so they are going into some kind of a violent situation against an armed individual, and those are our employees, those are our folks, we are asking to protect our community each and every day,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis.

Dennis said the county is working to address violence like this. They are looking to bring in more mental health services for inmates and staff.

“Start working with our behavior health collation with trying to put together some kind of a system that we can help the people without putting them in jail,” said Dennis.

The county has upped pay for detention deputies in recent months. As a result, seven new members will graduate Thursday. According to the Sedgwick County website, the job pays $18.96 an hour. To get more information about what the job entails and to apply, click here.

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