CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – While deputies are deployed patrolling the streets in good numbers, another part of the sheriff’s department is struggling to stay staffed.
Former Cheatham County Sheriff Mike Breedlove says there’s less people applying to be corrections officers, and that’s problematic.
Breedlove recently retired as the Cheatham County Sheriff, but says the county continues to face a real issue.
“We’ve been having a lot of turnover in our jail,” Breedlove said.
However, the lack of corrections officers is not a problem specific to Cheatham County. The U.S. Department of Justice has published multiple articles labeling correctional officer positions as one of law enforcement’s toughest positions to fill. Others address safety and wellness issues, including increased rates of suicide.
“There’s tremendous stress that they’re under and in a jail dealing with, you know, some really bad people every single day…pay is also a big issues. They find that, ‘well, I don’t have to be spit on, have urine thrown at me and all that,’ and make better money over here,” Breedlove said.
Cheatham County officials realized they had to do more and recently increased pay.
“What we’re seeing also in Cheatham is a lot of other departments surrounding us are paying their correctional officers, you know, two or three dollars more just to start out,” Breedlove said. “So, we kind of addressed that, where now we’ve got the pay up to where it’s a little bit more competitive, but it’s still less than other departments. We’re all competing against one another now.”
According to Breedlove, departments get creative by offering more training and better equipment in hopes of attracting talent, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the community.
“It’s got to take a community to demand to the leaders, ‘we want better law enforcement, and we’re willing to do what we got to do to get better law enforcement,” Breedlove said.