PHOENIX (AP) — The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is looking at ways to use Arizona National Guard personnel to help operate the understaffed jail system of the state’s most populous county, a sheriff’s office spokesman said.
“The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office continues to evaluate administrative needs in the office and if those needs can be met, temporarily, by the Arizona National Guard,” Sgt. Calbert Gillett told the Arizona Republic.
The sheriff’s office on Wednesday sent a request through county emergency officials for 135 state National Guard personnel to fill jail staffing needs but rescinded the request Thursday, county spokesman Fields Moseley said.
Gilbert said the request was a draft copy sent inadvertently “before evaluation by Command Staff.”
The request said the sheriff’s office “has reached critical staffing levels across multiple departments. Multiple jails are reaching maximum capacity with manpower shortages and a deficit in overtime funding causing the Sheriff’s Office to use badged field personnel to fill vacancies and help with the backlog in numerous departments. Due to this situation, MCSO is requesting National Guard Members to assist with the most critical vacant positions.”
According to Gillett, the sheriff’s office has over 775 vacant positions, including civilian jobs, detention officers and deputies.
The office is still evaluating how the National Guard could “augment operations within the MCSO to include sworn, detention, and civilian operations,” he said.
The county Board of Supervisors “doesn’t have a role in this process” but board members “are very concerned about the shortage of detention officers and jail staff which is not a new issue,” Moseley said.
Actions taken in recent years to bolster jail staffing included providing money for hazard pays, performance-based retention increases, market pay adjustments and other incentives, Moseley said.