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Staffing issues limited capacity at the Hamilton County Justice Center Sunday night

Bill Rinehart

The Hamilton County Justice Center had to restrict intake to people suspected of felonies Sunday night because it had far fewer than its normal 59 officers on staff.

Hamilton County Sheriff Captain Scott Kerr told reporters Monday officers worked overtime and moved over from other departments to fill the gaps.

"All told, we were about 20 officers down (Sunday) night from what we would have liked to have seen here," he said. "But luckily our enforcement division came through and brought a couple guys down. We had a couple of our special deputies from that section come and work some of the hospitals so we were able to get some of our people back to the jail. So we were able to operate as we needed to."

Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey held the news conference to correct impressions that the jail was closed outright Sunday night. She said a poorly worded news release left some thinking the jail was turning away all arrests, which McGuffey says wasn't the case.

"We simply used a restricted protocol to modify those individuals that we would bring in and house," she said. "If you have someone who needs to be arrested, who has committed a felony, who is a danger in any way to our society, bring them here."

McGuffey says law enforcement agencies were asked to cite low-level misdemeanor offenders instead. Six people suspected of felonies were taken in over night.

The restricted protocols were in effect from about 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., Kerr says. A combination of officers calling in sick and having to take people housed at the jail to the hospital contributed to the staffing shortage.

As of Monday afternoon, the jail was operating under normal intake protocols.

The restricted intake has happened before due to jail overcrowding, but never solely due to low staff, McGuffey said. She says the sheriff's office as a whole needs to hire between 50 and 60 more officers to be fully staffed, something it has hired a recruiting company to help with.

Nick has reported from a nuclear waste facility in the deserts of New Mexico, the White House press pool, a canoe on the Mill Creek, and even his desk one time.