purple_waveback6.png
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

hamilton_county_justice_center.jpg
Bill Rinehart
/
WVXU

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 Swartsell is a general assignment reporter for WVXU. Before his current role, he worked on the station’s Cincinnati Edition program as assistant producer and was a journalist for outlets in Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., and Texas prior to that. When he’s not reporting, he likes exploring places he probably shouldn’t on his bike, taking photos, and growing corn, tomatoes and peppers that are, in all honesty, much too hot for any practical use. He is from Hamilton. You can find him at @nswartsell on Twitter.