WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — FOX8 crews had the chance to take what Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough calls an unprecedented tour of the Forsyth County Detention Center.
The sheriff says the inside look is a part of his continued emphasis on transparency with the public and wanted to shed light on the gains made after three years of struggle to maintain staff and boost morale.
“756 people in a building. You’re going to have issues … because you have a population that is sitting around all day thinking, ‘How do I manipulate a lock?'” said Kimbrough as he showed our crews how some inmates are breaking cell locks.
The FCDC is almost 30 years old, and the hundreds of cells inside are starting to break down.
Deputies check cell locks each day. They’re periodically cleaned by a maintenance team as well, but they know they can only sustain the routine for so long.
The Forsyth County Commissioners put out a request for bids for a new lock system. Kimbrough says the high-tech systems on the market have an electronic signal that alerts deputies when it’s tampered with. They estimate the new system will cost around $2 million.
Kimbrough knows security concerns are one of the things affecting morale and staffing.
“Of course, you’re going to hear the things about somebody popping out of a cell or an assault. That comes with the job. It’s the nature of the beast. But at the end of the day, the women and men that work here do an outstanding job,” Kimbrough said.
Since 2019, Kimbrough has worked to raise the starting salary, but he knows more needs to be done.
Kimbrough announced to FOX8 that county commissioners will vote on a substantial raise for detention center workers to put their starting salary just shy of $50,000.
In the fall of last year, the detention center was down around 50 officers. The number has now doubled to 101 out of roughly 250 positions.
In the next few weeks, they’re switching to a permanent shift system, which is something they haven’t been able to do since 2019, giving the detention workers much-needed stability.
“We went around to every individual that works here and we asked, ‘What do you want to work,’ and I said, ‘Tell me what you want to work … and I’ll give you what you want to work,'” Kimbrough said.