DETROIT (WXYZ) — The staffing shortage at the two Wayne County jails where inmates are currently being held is so critically low that union officials tell 7 Action News that their members and the inmates are being placed in danger.
Reginald Crawford, president of the Wayne County Deputy Sheriff's Association, says for his members, it's "like being on death row."
A staffing shortage is nothing new for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, but Crawford and other union officials said there is no accountability for the problems and solutions, like the new jail, are too far down the road to provide the relief desperately needed right now.
Union officials said two deputies were suspended for multiple days for refusing to work an additional shift, despite advising their superiors that their exhaustion was putting safety at risk.
One deputy had worked over 80 hours in one week when he was reprimanded and suspended for not working an additional shift, according to union officials who added that another deputy was also suspended when he said he could not work another shift after having worked over 100 hours that week.
"And in the midst of all these staffing issues, we've continued to promote," said Corporal Allen Cox, 2nd vice president of the Wayne County Deputy Sheriffs' Association. "They've created new positions at the top by not providing any support at the bottom and our membership, and us, we're tired of it. Something has to change."
Union officials are urging increased incentives to recruit and retain members.
Sheriff Raphael Washington said he's focused on recruiting and points out a consent decree that mandates a minimum staffing level that must be maintained which forces the mandatory overtime.
Sheriff officials are encouraging high school graduates who are 18 and older to seek a career with their office where the starting pay is about $35,000. Click here for more information.