WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says one metal shank was found inside the jail this week during a surprise inspection by staff.
Easter says one is still too much.
“Even when we are fully staffed, folks can get stuff inside the jail,” said Easter. “So we have to do a better job of looking at ways we can prevent that from happening.”
Right now, the jail is far from fully staffed. Easter says they need to add 124 staff.
With a class of 30-plus in the pipeline to work in the department, they are stepping up surprise inspections, for now, to get more eyes on the inmates.
“And that’s what we are doing,” said Easter.
Another piece of the puzzle is adding more security. Better and more cameras are on the way, and fencing will be added to some parts of the jail.
Back in July of this year, four inmates attempted to get a handgun into the facility through a hole they made in a window. Easter says a sheet was lowered to haul in two cellphones and marijuana while a now-former deputy looked the other way.
“And bringing anything into a facility is a felony,” said Easter. “If folks are tempted to do that, you’re going to get caught sooner or later.”
Easter says with more surprise inspections of the inmate population, they are pulling staff from the command level, road patrols, investigations, judicial and internal affairs, as well as general staff.
“We are getting out to more recruiting events,” said Easter on trying to get staffing levels higher.
Using the staff they have now, Easter also says they are looking closely for any loose pieces of metal anywhere in the facility that could be used as a shank.
“What they do is take a piece of metal and then use toilet paper or any paper to wrap the metal and then use it,” said Easter.
Sedgwick County commissioners approved pay raises for jail and general staff recently to bring in more staff and retain them.
“I won’t get into the surprise movements we are doing to keep things out of the jail,” said Easter.
Easter says they are continually learning how to deal with people getting creative at getting contraband into the jail.
“And most of the time, that comes from the inmates after they get it in, and we find out how they get it in. And then we have to shut off that avenue,” said Easter. “Sometimes it’s fairly easy, and sometimes it’s not. And so the second part of that, the checks we do, need to be more frequent.”
The sheriff says they continue to run drones around the jail at random intervals to keep eyes on the inmates and those outside the jail as well.
“Because we don’t want to let this go and not follow up on it. We follow up on it,” said Easter.