Brown Co. Sheriff on number of job openings: ‘Very problematic’
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In December of 2020, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office was at full staff, but since January, the Brown County Jail has had more than two dozen open officer positions, and finding people to apply is becoming increasingly difficult.
“Literally, we are hiring non-stop,” says Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain. “So January 1, we fell behind by seven. But since then, we’ve had 20 additional correctional officers depart.”
Sheriff Delain describes the near-record number of job openings for corrections officers at the jail this year as “very problematic”.
The problem comes as the long-awaited jail expansion to house another 124 inmates is nearing completion.
Delain says a delay in delivery of certain materials pushed back the opening to late summer, the first time in years he is okay with waiting for it to open.
“It is a good thing, but it has been such a challenge to hire correctional officers,” said Delain.
From retirements, to officers leaving for patrol jobs or work outside of public safety, it’s not uncommon to have openings for corrections officers.
It’s a nationwide issue, but made more difficult now because agencies are not getting many people to apply in the first place.
“When I started in this profession and went through the normal hiring process, a normal testing would be about 400 candidates come through to take the written test to start the process,” says Delain. “We’re lucky if we get 40 now. That’s not a trend we want to see because ultimately, the communities are going to suffer.”
Although there’s competition in hiring for all industries and a private sector that can pay more with likely better hours, there’s always been a group of people who felt a calling to this profession to fill in the gabs. However, that isn’t happening like it used to.
Delain believes it’s in part because of anti-police sentiments in other parts of the country.
“Quite honestly, there’s a lot of individuals that have been in this profession a long time that are discouraging young people from going into this profession. If people in the profession feel like it’s not worth it... why did I get into this field anyway.. and I think that’s what people don’t necessarily see or understand is that all of that negative stuff will have an impact,” said Delain.
In order to get more applicants, Delain says the department will increase on-the-job training, so a high school diploma will now do, but he’s emphatic the standard for the kind of people they hire will not change.
“For the people that we’re going to hire, the standard of character will never change. We need high quality individuals with very good character to work in our correctional facilities.”
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