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Jails across east Idaho short on detention deputies

Bannock County Jail | file photo
POCATELLO — Local sheriff’s offices are not immune to the staffing shortages that have affected many industries across the state and nation.
There is a particular need, according to Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu, for detention deputies — the officers tasked with monitoring county jails. And that need goes beyond Pocatello.
Bonneville, Blaine and Fremont counties each are currently in search of detention deputies, with job postings either on the state job board or on websites operated by the counties.
“We’re finding it hard just to get applicants right now,” Manu recently told “Staffing would be my number one (issue) right now.”
As Manu explained, at minimum, one 12-hour shift is made up of a minimum of eight detention deputies at the Pocatello jail. With Manu’s staff currently nine short of being filled, the Bannock County Jail is short of being fully staffed by more than the amount of deputies it takes to man one shift. This leads to massive overtime hours which leads to fatigue and exhaustion, and that, Manu continued, “is when mistakes are made.”
“It’s getting taxing,” the first-term sheriff of Bannock County said. “You’ve got to deal with it — I mean, I don’t know what the answer is.”
Manu believes the deputy shortage has to do with the hit the perception of law enforcement has taken nationwide.
While he is happy to work in a region that, overall, is supportive of law enforcement officers, Manu believes that the profession is no longer one children growing up dreaming of assuming.
Kelly Meacham, a physician assistant who serves numerous east Idaho jails including Bonneville County Jail, has seen firsthand the massive turnover in his time at the Idaho Falls facility. Both Meacham and Manu believe that the cause for the shortages in manpower have much to do with new deputies being cast into a situations for which they are ill-prepared.
As Meacham said, deputies are often asked to feed and dress inmates, who are at times violent and aggressive, and who don’t want to be fed or dressed. The task can be off-putting, and something he does not believe new deputies are expecting.
Manu agreed, adding that new deputies often enter the building lacking a complete understanding of the job.
Madison County Jail may have the solution.
According to Madison County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Isaac Payne, the jail in Rexburg is one of the few eastern Idaho jails not currently short-staffed.
Madison County keeps a “fairly active reserve pool,” Payne said.
There, a team of part-time deputies are kept on staff, and as patrol positions become available full-time deputies are pulled from detention and put in the street — their full-time position is then filled by one of the part-timers.
That way, deputies are able to dip their toes in the water as a part-time detention officer before diving into the deep water. They have knowledge and understanding of the job before they are asked carry it for 40-plus hours a week.
“It seems to be an effective system,” Payne said.
Payne also credited the office’s visibility at local career fairs and promoting the profession, as well as a positive relationship with its community.
Anyone with aspirations of a career in law enforcement interested in pursuing openings in the area can find applications online POST.Idaho.Gov where positions are open in Bannock County — starting at $18.29 per hour — Fremont County — starting at $19.64 per hour — and Blaine County — starting at $30.08 per hour. Positions are open for both male and female detention deputies in Bonneville County at
The post Jails across east Idaho short on detention deputies appeared first on East Idaho News.

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