Officers with the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office are sounding the alarm on a significant staffing shortage. Currently, more than 30 jail jobs remain unfilled. That accounts for about a third of their normal staff size.
Just days ago, Sgt. Joe A. Gonzalez, president of the Nueces County Sheriff Officer’s Association, shared an article on Facebook titled "Thousands of Unfilled Jail Jobs, Millions in Overtime, Zero Room for Error." It didn’t take long for his fellow officers to agree that vacancies here could be having the same impact.
"Eventually when you have people that are tired that are coming in day after day, day after day, they get burned out so they might miss something," Gonzalez tells KRIS 6 News.
He says the Sheriff’s Office is constantly working to hire more jailers and relieve the pressure and overtime on current officers. He believes that pay is part of the problem.
Sgt. Gonzalez explains, "Once you start getting to bigger agencies like Bexar County or Harris County or even down in the Valley, Hidalgo County and Cameron County, we’re not very competitive."
Mike Pusley sat on the commissioners court that approved the last pay raise four years ago. He says the 15 percent increase over four years was a good move, but it should just be a starting point.
"We still have to do better. We have to come to grips with the fact that we have to raise county salaries on all levels so that we’re competitive in the corporate market," Pusley says.
Sgt. Gonzalez understands a jailer job is tough and isn’t for everyone. However, he says the opportunity is here in Nueces County and more hires can lead to less burnout for officers who are in an already stressful position.
"Once the guys start getting tired and coming in and coming in, eventually it’s going to cost the taxpayers more money because then you start getting lawsuits. Things start happening. We want to prevent those things. We want to be proactive instead of reactive," Gonzalez says.
The Nueces County Sheriff’s Office is hiring. Testing is conducted twice a week. Gonzalez says the starting salary is $30,000. Once a person is certified as a peace officer, salary is increased to $34,000 – $35,000 a year. Gonzalez says by working overtime, some officers even have the potential to make between $40,000 – $50,000 a year.
For more information, contact Deputy Juan Escobar at 361-887-2222 or Human Resources at 361-888-0208. You can also access an online application by clicking here.