SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Down more than 100 employees. Currently, the Sedgwick County Jail is only 50% staffed. The shortage is now at crisis levels. He said the only solution is to raise pay.

Employees at the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office received a 2% increase in pay this month. It bumped up the starting salary for detention deputies to more than $19 an hour. However, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said people are still not applying. During some shifts, there is only one deputy to every 70 inmates.

“I knew of a place in ‘such and such’ part of the United States that raised the pay to $27 an hour, and now they are only down 9 staff. It’s about the pay,” said Easter.

Sheriff Easter wants a $4 raise for all staff, putting jail deputies’ starting salary around $23 an hour, but will it be enough?

“I don’t know if that’s going to draw people here. I know that when you have a job that is not very desirable, and the detention job is one of those types of jobs, you have to pay more to get people to come in here to work,” Easter said.

Easter said the starting rate ranks eigth among other law enforcement in the county. Sedgwick County Commissioner David Dennis said inflation isn’t helping.

“We’re running 8-9% inflation rate right now, so the pay raises we’ve already given have been eaten up by inflation, so we’re gonna have to get them to the point where we can retain the great people we have and recruit other great people for the future,” Dennis said.

“At this point, there needs to be a structure in place of what raises are going to look like in the future to keep attracting people and to retain people. That’s what we are working on now,” Easter said.

In three surveys last year, Sheriff Easter said employees noted pay as the number one problem and overtime as the second.

“If they’re going to be away from their families that long. They want to see the fruits of their labor, and at this point, they’re away for too long, and the pay isn’t there, so they’re leaving,” Easter said.

County leaders and the sheriff are expected to discuss a pay increase for all deputies during a meeting next week. Commissioner Dennis said if approved, we could see changes almost immediately.