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Sheriff And County Manager Work On Plan For Jail Staffing

Eileen Pace

Sheriff Susan Pamerleau returned to county commissioners Tuesday to give them a promised update on her progress to correct staffing and overtime issues at the Bexar County Jail. 

The new sheriff told commissioners she is working with the county manager to create a multi-pronged approach to the problem.

Two weeks ago, Pamerleau asked county commissioners for an additional $500,000 to fund overtime pay at the jail while she worked on fixing the systemic problem.  When she took over on Jan. 1, Pamerleau inherited staff shortages that resulted in more than $2 million spent on overtime hours that was not in the budget.

Her budget request was met with approval, and this week, she brought her report back to the court.

“The biggest issue is really modernizing our systems,” Pamerleau said.

For the short-term, Pamerleau has added part-time staff and new graduates; however, she said it’s not just payroll and HR systems that need to be modernized, but also long-term oversight of the jail and court security.

“To make sure that we can maximize those kind of capabilities so that those jobs that require individuals to be on the floor, providing coverage in the jail, we can use them there instead of having to do the manual types of functions,” Pamerleau said.

The sheriff told the court that her office has been actively recruiting at the rodeo and at area universities and job fairs. She is about to start interviews for the Jail Administrator position. Pamerleau also said she and the county manager are doing a cost-benefits study on moving some inmates to the Karnes County Jail.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.