Guilford County still needs more detention officers

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- At any point in the day, there are 50 officers inside the Guilford County Detention Center in downtown Greensboro. They are operating elevators, booking new inmates, handling inmate property and just watching. They are all doing essential jobs that keep the facility, which houses nearly 700, running.

"If you have the skills and abilities to serve the public, you can make a 30-year career out of it," says Sgt. Nathan Triche with the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

Triche says the long-term career can be attractive to many people, but right now the sheriff's office is down 33 detention officers despite recruiting efforts this summer. After a recruiting event, the office hired five detention officers, but many top officers in the department are reaching retirement age and leaving their careers and more openings at the jail.

"We're still having difficulty filling those spots and it speaks first and foremost to the difficulty of performing the work day in and day out," says Triche.

Triche is one of the people that screens applicants for the sheriff's office and says there are more openings now than he has ever seen.

“When the job market is getting better you're in competition with not only other detention officer positions but other positions in the private sector,” he explained.

Detention officers are working overtime right now to keep the jail fully staffed. They often work one position like monitoring a housing unit and on their next shift handle inmate property and transfers and releases.

Triche says communication is the most important skill for potential detention officers, and the sheriff’s office is extremely selective.

“Being able to interact professionally, interact compassionately be able to meet folks in a point in their life when they are going through a crisis,” that Triche and detention officers say not everyone is cut out for.