DES MOINES, Iowa -- Finding people who want to work as Detention Officers at the Polk County Jail is proving to be a difficult challenge. Currently, there are 31 vacancies. The Polk County Sheriff's Office attributes the recruitment and retention problems it is experiencing, in part, to the low unemployment rate in Iowa and the very competitive business environment. As a consequence, Polk County is trying new incentives and bonuses and other alternatives to try to attract and keep talent.
In the meantime, the jail has had to send some inmates elsewhere.
"To maintain that population in line with our staffing levels, we did have to ship some inmates out," said Frank Marasco, Chief Administrative Officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. "We`ll likely be bringing them back as the population reduces, which historically happens in the Winter season."
Marasco says there are currently 39 inmates that Polk County has sent out to be housed in other counties, but he says it isn't a regular process. "It's almost like a last resort..." said Marasco.
The Polk County Jail, built in 2008, has the physical space to house more inmates, but it doesn't have the staffing to manage them. "The operational capacity of the jai is 1,120, with our current staffing number," said Cory Williams, Assistant Chief Jailer for the Polk County Sheriff's Office. There are currently 1,075 inmates being housed at the jail.