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Warren County deputies spending less time on patrol to curve staffing struggles in the jail

MONMOUTH, Illinois--- Warren county deputies are spending less time patrolling the streets and more time securing the jail due to the high turnover rate of the guards.

Sheriff Martin Edwards says he would like to have at least nine jailers working during the week but right now there are only six. That’s because he can only pay them a little more than $12 an hour.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen an accelerated rate of loss which is due to the fact that we have a neighboring county that starts off 7.19 cents more than we pay.”

Deputy Jason Horner has been on the force for 12 years, but lately he’s had to trade in time spent in his squad car to stand guard inside the jail.

“It’s extremely frustrating I was hired in here as a patrol man to do patrol work… I spend a lot of my shift in the jail making sure my (Correction officers) know what they are doing,” says Horner

Most of the jailers on staff now are relatively new hires.

The jail is also seeing a spike in inmates. On average there are usually about 15 people in house but at times that number can nearly double, putting more pressure on the staff.

“When you get those kinds of numbers it’s a safety issue. I don’t want to let an inexperienced officer here by themselves,” says Edwards.

Both Sheriff Edwards and Deputy Horner agree that the change has not had an impact on response times because patrol officers in the jail still must also respond to emergency calls if officers in the field need extra help.

However, they say it has influenced the department’s ability to proactively patrol the area.

“When I’m stuck in the jail I don’t get to patrol, I don’t get to stop speeders, I don’t get to stop DUI’s,” says Horner.

Warren County last asked voters to support a public safety tax back in 2008, but it failed. Sheriff Edwards says it may be time to ask again, if there is support from the county board.