Could pay hike help reduce employee turnover rate at Taylor County Jail?

Jail employment difficult upkeep

ABILENE, Texas - Taylor County Commissioners are looking into a base pay increase for employees of the jail to help cut down on what they are calling a high employee turnover rate.

The proposed starting salary would be $27,000 a year. That's about $2,000 more than jailers are currently making.

Sheriff Ricky Bishop said he loses more employees at the jail than any of his other county offices.

"Since January 2009, we have lost approximately 143 employees. Now, 80 percent of those have been because they wanted a higher-paying job," said Bishop.

Bishop hopes a higher salary will encourage more people to apply.

"Out of 10 people we interview, we might end up sending seven away because they can't pass a background check," Bishop said.  

He also hopes it will help keep jailers who are already working there.

"Every day they come to work hoping that they don't get stabbed by a homemade weapon by one of these inmates or something and some of them don't want to deal with it. They can go make the same money flipping hamburgers or something somewhere," Bishop said.  

Assistant Jail Administrator Lt. Tim Trawick has worked at the jail for 17 years.

"I've had inmates spit in my mouth. I had urine thrown on me, feces. It's a daily occurrence for altercations," Trawick said.  

Trawick said with so many employees leaving, it's hard to train jailers thoroughly.

"They need the time, longevity, longer an officer's here the more he's seen they can't get over on him they understand better how an inmate thinks," Trawick said.  

Trawick said that knowing how an inmate thinks can prevent violence and jailbreaks.

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