WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Sedgwick County Jail is continuing to face a staffing problem, and it’s all hands on deck now to keep the jail staffed and the inmates safe.

The sheriff of Sedgwick County said they are down 100 employees. Because of that, he and other upper administration have been filling shifts in the jail for over a year. He said the staff shortage is not getting any better.

“Pretty much everybody except our civilian personnel are working inside the jail. Our civilian personnel are handling the lobby and visitation areas because we don’t have enough deputies to fill those positions,” said Sheriff Jeff Easter.

Easter said it’s a team effort and staff remains at a crisis level.

“When we don’t have enough staff, then inmates sense that. They become scared. They start arming themselves with shanks. We have more fights. Those types of things, and last night, when I was working in there, we had a couple of major fights in there,” Sheriff Easter said.

With safety a concern, staff has shut down a jail pod and might have to downsize more. The sheriff said the budget is strained due to overtime hours and having to house inmates elsewhere.

“When you’re 100 down and then 20 down out of the commission side, there is no budget savings because any part of the personnel cost budget savings that we have is being sucked up in over time, and we’re getting to the point where we could outspend our budget based on overtime,” Sheriff Easter said.

Easter said the pay for employees remains lower than smaller law enforcement agencies in the county.

“That’s a problem. Hopefully, the commissioners will address it and continue addressing it because if not, it could be a bigger issue. Pay is not every reason why people aren’t coming here. It’s part of the reason,” said Easter.

Starting Friday, the starting rate for jail deputies increases. Sedgwick County commissioners approved a 2% raise, which now puts the hourly rate at more than $19 an hour.

If you are interested in applying to work at the jail, click here.