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Wayne County deputy shortage expected in courts and jails with restrictions set by chief judge

Posted at 6:15 PM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 20:07:14-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Wayne County Circuit Court resumed jury trials on Monday at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. There were 110 people who came in for jury duty. Two of 19 courtrooms will be used for trial as courts reopen with COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols in place.

But there could soon be a shortage of Wayne County Sheriff's deputies to cover the courts and work in the jails. Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny issued an order on July 10 that prohibits deputies from working in the courts and the jails over concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Judge Kenny tells 7 Action News that 206 deputies tested positive for COVID-19 since March and some have died.

Deputies have been forced to work overtime in the jails to cover the shifts.

Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon says he’s down 200 deputies and his first priority is covering the jails. He says if he gets short on staff he’ll talk with the chief judge.

Officials with the Wayne County Deputy Sheriff’s Association tell 7 Action News this is a crisis. Deputies are experiencing burnout. Some have chosen to work overtime to make extra money but end up working several 16-hour double shifts a week.

They also say the sheriff’s hands are tied in this.

The union has filed a grievance over the issue.