Approximately 70 inmates in a North Las Vegas jail were released simply because there were not enough officers to guard them. That’s because literally dozens of officers called in sick last weekend.
An entire wing of the jail had to be shut down, Tim Bedwell, a North Las Vegas police spokesman reported. This prompted the judge to issue an order allowing nonviolent offenders to be set free.
Bedwell was unsure of the number of officers who failed to show up for work, but said 49 shifts had to be covered on overtime.
“We can't afford that from a monetary standpoint, and from a people standpoint we just couldn't cover it,” he noted, as quoted by The Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The only reasonable solution we have is to close a wing.”
The high number of officers that called in sick is not indicative of an epidemic, but rather of massive layoff fears.
“You have to ask them why they called in,” Bedwell noted.
Rumors have been circulating that the jail will be shut down entirely this summer, but Bedwell stressed that no final decision has been made yet.
Leonard Cardinale, the president of the Police Supervisors Association, said union workers should remain professional even in dire budget times. Nevertheless, he admitted that the officers at the jail are working under a hostile environment and that he was not surprised by the “sick out.”
The North Las Vegas jail now houses some 140 inmates, though just some years ago it had lodged as many as 900. The capacity reduction came as a result of systematic budget cuts.