TYLER, TX (KLTV) - After a year of under-staffing at the Smith County Jail, Sheriff Larry Smith is asking for jailers to either be paid for vacation time they had to lose, or allow that time off to carry over into the next year.
On Tuesday morning, Sheriff Smith went before county commissioners hoping to make things right for jailers who missed out on time off, but the court decided to take no action.
“If you work in that jail, you need your time away from it to depressurize,” Smith said.
Smith says jailers missed out on a little over $43,000 worth of vacation time and says he was only asking the court to be reasonable. Commissioners raised questions about how fair this would be compared to other county departments, to which Smith said was like comparing apples to oranges.
“We’ve got 11 capital murder suspects in jail and six murder suspects,” Smith said. “There’s some bad people there that want to hurt people. And we want to compare them to everybody else that sits behind a desk at the county.”
At one point this year, 25 positions were unfilled. That number is now down to 15, with five new hires expected by the end of the year. Smith says it’s hard to put a finger on just one reason behind the under-staffing, but calls this move a 'setback."
“This is a very tough situation to deal with,” County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “Because those folks need time off to rejuvenate mentally and emotionally to be able to do their job effectively.”
The court could reconsider the item if it appears back on the agenda, although that’s not expected to happen. Detention officers will lose their vacation time on January 1, 2019.
“This isn’t how you fix," Smith said. “This adds to the problem.”