TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Inmate occupancy at the Taylor County Jail is at an all-time high as law enforcement and corrections positions remain unfilled.
Sheriff Ricky Bishop went in front of Taylor County Commissioners Tuesday to get permission to use money from 10 open positions in his corrections department to fund overtime for current staff — a motion that was granted with unanimous approval.
Right now, jailers working long hours to make up for the unfilled positions are being offered comp time, but interest in taking extra shifts is dwindling as the comp time stacks up with no opportunity to take it.
790 inmates were housed in the Taylor County Jail last week, breaking the all-time occupancy record.
County Judge Downing Bolls says this problem will continue until something is done to address the overpopulation issue.
He says Texas legislators are currently considering changing the State’s bond practice to allow more people to get released from jail while waiting for their charges to proceed to court.
‘You get them out of there as quickly as you possibly can,” Judge Bolls said during commissioner’s court.
In addition to possible legislation, Taylor County sends inmates to other jails to compensate for overpopulation and commissioners are looking at property right now that could be used to expand the jail.
Judge Bolls also pointed out that all local law enforcement, not just the corrections department, is facing a staff shortage, and he believes this is due a lack of applicants because the State of Texas offers better wages and benefits than the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office and the Abilene Police Department.
Currently, TCSO has 6 unfilled positions and APD has several as well.
The overtime allowance is only good for the current fiscal year and will be re-evaluated during upcoming budget workshops.
Commissioners could also consider allotting more funding for public safety, a category Judge Bolls says is already the biggest part of the county’s budget, in order to entice law enforcement to stay in Taylor County.
Open law enforcement positions in Abilene and Taylor County are as follows (all include benefits):
- City of Abilene
- Taylor County
- 9-1-1 Communications Operator – $33,000 annually
- Juvenile Supervision/Detention Officer (Male) – $34,530 annually
- Deputy Constable/Bailiff – $36,570 annually
- Patrol Deputy – Sheriff’s Office – $39,000 annually
- Sheriff’s Office Deputy/ Corrections Officer (Female) – $35,500 annually
- Sheriff’s Office Deputy/Corrections Officer (Male) – $35,500 annually
- Transport Officer – $39,000 annually