September 30, 2022

Today (Sep. 30, 2022), the BCSO released Detain, Inc.’s audit of the Bexar County Adult Detention Center, which the BCSO itself had commissioned last year. We regret that this document was not made public before the Commissioners Court budget vote, even though it had been drafted well before budget discussions. We are still awaiting the County’s report…

Regarding its contents, many of its findings confirm what we have been saying for years, especially on issues of recruitment and retention. The BCSO is the worst paid county law enforcement of any major Texas county. The starting wage at the BCSO is currently 15.9% below the starting wages of the 5 other largest metropolitan counties in Texas. 

We find that departments across the country are offering signing bonuses equal to 1/2 a year’s salary to recruit new officers. The county has a track record of short changing or minimizing the the importance of public safety and once again this has been confirmed by this survey.

Meanwhile, the wage gap only worsens with seniority. According to the study, the BCSO’s midpoint wage is 26.5% below that of other major Texas counties, while its maximum hourly wage is 39.3% higher. These factors undermine the BCSO’s ability to hire and damages retention.  

The DSABC has also found that nearly $3 million total has been stolen from the employees compensation package since 2016 as a big factor in the retention issue. The hard working men and women of the BCSO are forced to work grueling shifts 70-90 hours a week to keep the jail going and in return the county management “rewards” them by stealing/taking their time from them October 1st of every year because they are unable to get the time off due to the staffing crisis – a policy referred as “use it or lose it.” 

Moreover, we have always alerted the public to the severe amount of vacancies at the jail, which, as the study says, is the “primary cause” of the BCSO’s chronic forced overtime and forced no relief practices. The study finds that the rate of vacancies at the BCSO at over 33%, is two to three times larger than that of surrounding Tarrant, Travis, and Dallas Counties

We also strongly agree with the consultant’s recommendation against privatizing the jail. Privatization has been proven not to work in the past.