The People’s Tribune

Pike County Jail May Possibly Suspend Operations

The staffing dilemma facing several industries across the nation may have claimed another victim in Pike County.

According to a press release from Pike County Sheriff, Stephen Korte, he is considering possibly suspending jail operations into the unforeseeable future due to staffing shortages.  

“Due to the inability to recruit and retain staff, we can no longer safely continue to operate,” Sheriff Korte wrote. “This problem is not unique to the Jail as most employers in our area are struggling to find and retain staff. Most notably and comparable would be the prison who is also short staffed even though they have a much higher starting level of compensation. I am aware of other counties in Missouri who are finding themselves in the same position.”

According to Korte, the jail’s current detainees would likely be transferred to the Audrain County Jail in Mexico Mo. as early as this week.

“Audrain is the closest jail able to house our average number of inmates, 40 per day,” he said. “At this time, I cannot predict how long this will be for. For the families and friends of detainees, Audrain County uses the same vender for phones, email, and commissary as Pike County.”

The Pike County Jail previously closed temporarily in December of 2020 during the height of COVID.

“At that time, the number of jail staff I was budgeted for was cut from 12 to 10 to increase wages from $11.50 to $13.50 an hour,” he explained. “Later that year, a Deputy position was cut to raise that starting pay from $15.50 to $17.50 an hour. In July of this year, I was allowed to raise the starting pay in the jail to $14.00 an hour.”

Korte went on to say the Sheriff’s Office has been at the maximum number of full-time staff—23 positions—for the last two years.

“We currently have only 16 full-time employees. All Deputy positions are filled and there is one Deputy holding and working a Jailer position,” he continued. “For the last several months the jail has been averaging over 200 hours of overtime a month due to being short staffed. With Two staff leaving for new jobs, on December 1, it became necessary to pull two full-time Deputies from patrol to maintain two persons on duty in the jail. Reserve Deputies are also filling in at the jail.”

According to Korte, the current half cent sales tax is the primary funding source for the Sheriff’s Office.

“Over the last decade, and drastically since COVID, the amount of internet sales versus in-person sales has greatly increased,” he said. “Because Pike County does not receive sales tax from internet sales the current sales tax has not kept up with the rate of inflation or increases of minimum wage.”

Korte noted that in his 14 years of service, health insurance has increased 143% with employees now contributing the equivalent of $0.50 an hour.

“The cost of our other insurances has increased by 92%. Minimum wage has increased by 70%. And, in the last 18 months our cost for food has doubled,” he went on to explain. “Having to use another counties jail will not save us any money, but we can no longer safely both operate our own facility and provide law enforcement response with what we have been able to budget. Your county officials have and will continue to work towards the goal of providing the most, best public safety possible.”

Sheriff Korte finished his statement by thanking his staff and Chief Deputy, David Carroll.

“I also want to publicly thank our staff for their dedication to our county. Their willingness to serve, fuels my dedication. All but three of the current staff have been here over a year and a half. In particular, I want to recognize the Chief Deputy, and Louisiana High school graduate, David Carroll on his 30-year anniversary at the Sheriff’s Office this month. I wish I had more than words to recognize all of the staff for their sacrifices and desire to serve.”

We will update as more information becomes available.

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