The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County welcomes yesterday’s overdue release of American Correctional Consultants’ assessment of the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. Many of its observations align with our own daily experiences and struggles, and we applaud its efforts in addressing issues employee incentives, compensation, and recruitment.
First, we hope the County seizes this occasion to work with the Sheriff to mitigate the abusive recourse to forced mandatory overtime among deputies and staff at the jail. This study correctly identifies a significant number of officers in detention positions not required to work overtime. As the study notes, sick leave hours have risen substantially. This is because most of our officers are working 64 to 72 hours a week and are mentally exhausted. Sick leave is the only way for our officers to avoid total burn out.
We also urge the County to work with the BCSO on the overall problem of low morale at the jail. To bolster employee retention, the study recommends attractive ideas such as town hall meetings, new awards for service, and retention bonuses. Unfortunately, the dismal level of trust between the rank and file and command staff stands in the way of any positive effect of these policies were they to be implemented.
Lastly, we ask our new County Judge and every Commissioner to support the study’s recommendation of providing more competitive salaries to jail staff. Shamefully, the study ranks Bexar County jail 11th – as of only this year – in relation to other large county facilities across the State of Texas. Commissioners should also consider facilities in counties adjacent to ours that are not featured on the list, such as Comal and Atascosa. Many of our own deputies are leaving for positions in these counties for higher wages and better working conditions. This is a direct contributor to the nearly 207 detention members leaving as of 11/21/22. A report done by KSAT 12 news published on November 16, 2022 states that to afford a house in San Antonio you now need to make $87,000 a year to afford a “typical home.” The salary requirement for the median home went up 49.9% in one year.
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Has there been an improvement in the detention center. Are the deputies and recruits being paid adequately and not being overworked? One of our friends started working there recently and is really worried based on what the new coworkers are telling them they won’t get sign on bonuses or paid for overtime like they were told at training. We just want to make sure it is addressed soon and not ignored.