Metro Corrections has already lost 19 employees since Jan. 1 of this year, with another three employees having also put in their notices.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville Corrections FOP leaders are urging city officials to budget in pay increases for Metro Corrections employees to address the issue of understaffing that has hit the department for several years.
“We’re around approximately 70 vacancies right now, which isn’t a problem if you’re a big Fortune 500 company — it’s a drop in the bucket,” FOP Lodge 77 spokesperson Tracy Dotson said. “It’s a big problem if you’re a 450-man sworn department and you’ve got lives in your hand every day.”
According to Dotson, Metro Corrections has already lost 19 employees since Jan. 1 of this year, with another three employees having also put in their notices. In that span, the department has only hired eight employees.
In 2020, Metro Corrections lost 62 employees and hired 44 applicants. In 2019, Metro Corrections lost 58 employees and only hired 25 more employees, according to Dotson.
“We’ve had people quit and go to Texas Roadhouse. We’ve had people quit and go to other agencies,” Dotson said. “We have sworn staff leaving and going to other smaller agencies and jails doing the same jobs, but they’re getting paid a little more.”
According to Dotson, corrections officers are often working overtime several days a week to account for the shortage of staff.
“That’s a serious, serious issue that somebody’s going to make a mistake, violate somebody’s civil rights, get themselves in a situation they shouldn’t have gotten in maybe because they’re on their fourth double shift of that week and they’re just tired and worn out,” he said.
The second Metro Corrections Academy is set to begin Thursday, according to Metro Corrections Assistant Director Steve Durham.
“This is an unusual time where a pandemic and civil unrest has created deep challenges for public safety positions across the nation,” Durham wrote in a text message. “We continue to collaborate with FOP Lodge 77 to recruit and retain good corrections officers. We all have to work to enrich the Department. Our recruit efforts continue and would love to have a full compliment of staff.”
Dotson said it is up to Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville Metro Council and the Office of Management and Budget to allot more money to Metro Corrections to allow them to increase the starting salary of Metro Corrections officers. He said the FOP is also asking the city to allot more money specifically to recruiting and retaining officers.