Sheriff: Staffing crunch expected to cause delay in booking of suspects
A short-term staffing shortage is expected to slow inmate booking at the Mesa County Jail and delay other aspects of the judicial process in Mesa County in the coming weeks, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.
Effective Friday, reduced staff in the booking wing of the jail will mean new inmates arriving after 11:30 p.m. daily will be kept in holding cells until 8 a.m. the next day, when booking technicians will be on the job for regular shifts.
The move was forced by the loss of three booking positions since August, Sheriff Stan Hilkey said. Hilkey said two of the three positions have been open since August; a third employee gave notice in early December of intent to leave this coming Friday.
All county departments have been asked to slow hiring for vacant positions to realize “turnover savings goals” for each department.
“The shortage of booking staff does not compromise the safety and security of the facility,” Hilkey wrote in a news release on Tuesday.
Hilkey said two new booking employees have been hired and both are expected to be trained and on the job by the end of January. Normal practices are expected to resume at that time, he said.
The anticipated delays in getting inmates through booking and permanently housed will mean anyone arriving at the jail between 11:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. won’t go before a judge until roughly a day and a half after arriving, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Currently, inmates booked before 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. are typically advised in court 1:30 p.m. that same day.
The change comes a little more than a year after the Sheriff’s Department suspended face-to-face visits between inmates and family members, when Hilkey said budgetary constraints didn’t allow them to fully staff a series of nine visitation booths.