Smith, Angelina Counties unable to heed governor’s call for jailers at border

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Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 7:55 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Governor Greg Abbott last Friday issued a statewide call for jailers to assist border sheriffs with operating detention facilities and providing jail beds for those arrested on state charges related to the border crisis.

Right now that call is one that Angelina County Jail cannot answer. According to Sheriff Greg Sanches, the jail doesn’t have enough staff to afford to send anyone to another county.

“Our manpower is going to be affected, if we were to lose somebody to leave our county to go to other counties right now. It is really a tough time for a lot of sheriff departments,” said Sanches.

Sanches believes that they are losing staff due to lack of pay and stress from the job.

“You really hate that you aren’t able to help out the governor, but at the same time it is more frustrating from a local standpoint that you aren’t able to pay the salaries that are needed for your law enforcement or jailers,” said Sanches.

In Smith County, sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Larry Christian says it’s the same story. Not enough pay and not enough people. As a result, many staffers have to work overtime in order to meet the state required inmate-to-staff ratio.

“You have detention officers that are stressed out because of the fact that they are having to work shorthanded and to couple that, many of them are having to work a lot of overtime hours and it is causing a stress from that aspect,” said Christian.

They are hoping the county’s proposed budgets will provide pay raises which they believe will attract more workers, but as for now, they don’t have the resources to answer the governor’s call.

“I know the sheriff would be more than happy to help if he were able to get the resources together to do that. We just have to look out for the citizens of Smith County first and make sure that people are safe here before we would be allowed to do something to that nature,” said Christian.

Jails in Smith and Angelina counties cannot provide beds either, because of the amount of inmates that are currently being housed.

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