WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – On the heels of the latest issues at the Sedgwick County Jail regarding a now-former detention deputy, some county leaders are calling for a comprehensive look at what can be done to fix staffing issues.

“We can throw more money at it. And, yes, we have to fix the pay. That’s the first thing to look at,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell. “And I don’t want to make this look like I’m picking on leadership at the jail. But we need to find a comprehensive solution.”

Dustin Burnett (Courtesy Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office)

Howell says, with Dustin Burnett being fired as a detention deputy and now accused by sheriff’s investigators of sex-related charges inside the jail, it’s time to get more staff on board as jail deputies.

“It’s a job not everyone wants to do,” said Howell.

Howell and other deputies have talked about adding critical pay to increase jail deputy money to around $23 an hour. He also says that the retention of deputies needs a long look as well as the money.

“A deep dive into the jail facility and find out what we can do to improve the quality of life over there for the workforce,” added Howell. “At the end of the day, it’s costing taxpayers way too much money to recruit them and train them and then have them walk away from the job in a very short period of time.”

Jail leaders say they are looking into hiring practices on the heels of the latest accusations against Burnett.

“The fact [that] somebody would break the law to that magnitude is disturbing, frustrating, and is something we are obviously not going to bend on those things, and we will hold our employees accountable,” said Sedgwick County Undersheriff Brian White. “Is there something we can do better in the hiring process to make sure that we have good quality hires?”

“We will go back, and we will look at this hire. And see if there are things that we could have done better or differently. So that’s, always, we are constantly doing that,” said Undersheriff White.

Howell says he and other commissioners are interested in getting an inside look at the operations of the jail to see how they can help find and retain good jail deputies.

“But at the end of the day, the first priority is pay. But we ought to be looking at every other option at the table,” said Howell.

Howell also wants to consider asking other law enforcement agencies if they have eligible, experienced workers that could pick up a shift or two right away.

“We need up to 50 people in the community to step up right away and help,” said Howell. “I’m not 100% [sure] what that looks like just yet, but we need to consider something like this.”

Meanwhile, Undersheriff White says jail investigators are still looking into the latest charges to be filed with the DA’s office regarding fired detention deputy Burnett.