GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County detention center officers say safety is at risk because of staffing inside the jails. 

Staff members took a list of concerns to the Board of Commissioners on Thursday evening, speaking as concerned citizens. 

“It’s become dangerous,” one speaker said. “Since April 1 of this year to May 16, we had 139 housing units unmanned. That’s May 16. We’re in June and continue to increase.” 

Speakers described “extreme understaffing” and said there have been assaults and COVID cases inside the jail since September. 

“We need your help. You don’t know what it’s like to be in a pod. Something happens, and you don’t know if everybody’s going to get there to help,” another speaker said. 

“Each pod we have about 40 to one. We have officers running around two pods trying to keep them all safe,” one man said. 

Staff members told commissioners they’ve been working mandatory overtime since September.  

“The mandatory overtime is needed. Without it, that jail would be unsafe,” the first speaker said. 

To alleviate the staffing strain, officers pushed for better pay and benefits to recruit new officers and retain existing employees. 

They also asked commissioners to bring back leave for quarantine and positive COVID cases.  

“Officers are still getting sick. Family members are still getting sick. We’re asking for help. Please,” a speaker pleaded. 

Sheriff Danny Rogers recently announced at $4,000 bonus paid in three installments to employees. 

Retired officers can also earn $25 hourly if they return to work.  

“You offered the incentives, but you need to look at that again. It’s truly a smack in the face because you can’t offer an incentive to half the people when everybody as a whole is working,” a speaker said. 

Sheriff Rogers spoke before commissioners, thanking his officers and command staff working on the front lines.  

He told commissioners he didn’t know staff members planned to speak until the day of the meeting. 

“I know you’re working on some things, I’ll give you that, but it’s come to a point now where the men and women that are working inside these walls that are providing the safety and security for those that are incarcerated. The residents are speaking out, so we need to make sure we can come together and do something,” he said.