WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — There are several job openings at the Wichita County Jail needing to be filled.
The positions have been open for a while, and Wichita County officials said they hope to fill them soon.
One open position is of a jailer: a position requiring dedication, patience and a willingness to learn, all requirements the Wichita County Sheriff said he believes can lead to a fulfilling career.
Gerald Bright is one of the newer detention officers inside the jail. Prior to this position he worked as a truck driver, an employee for the state department, as well as serving 26 years in the United States military. He’s been at his new job for about a year and two months.
As to why this job now, he said he wants to serve his community, which gives him purpose.
“The environment here is very diverse. People come in here from all creeds, colors, you name it—they come in here,” Bright said. “For me, on a personal note, if I can provide one ounce of trying to be polite and courteous, that may leave a lasting impression.”
As dedicated to his job as he is, recently to some extent, it’s been a struggle. Between the jail and the annex, there is a shortage of about 18 detention officers, which can often make for some long days.
“It does have an impact mentally and physically because 16 hours a day of work has an extreme impact on anybody. The biggest thing for me particularly is being away from my family,” Bright said.
With the lack of jailers, some like Bright have worked double shifts. That’s now being addressed with jailers shifts being changed to 12-hour shifts.
Bright also said with longer days comes fatigue, which can lead to being tired, resulting in potential mistakes, something neither he nor his colleagues want to happen.
Lisa Patterson has worked her way up from being a carhop at a local restaurant to now captain at the detention center.
“In 2005, I went to the [Texas] Workforce Commission, this job paid $10 an hour. At the time, that was good money, so I applied and fell in love,” Patterson said.
But not everybody falls in love working in the jail. On top of the strain of working with inmates, Wichita County Sheriff David Duke said there are other reasons he’s having a hard time filling jailer positions—like better paying local jobs.
With those issues being addressed, Duke said a jailer is a good start on a law enforcement career.
“You’ll really get to know and understand people when you come and work inside a county jail I can assure you,” Duke said.