A newly released third-party review of the Bexar County Adult Detention Center found that, despite criticisms from deputies and other staffers, the jail compiles with state standards.

The jail report also recommends various levels of pay increases to help the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office to better recruit and retain personnel in what the survey called a tough environment for recruitment.

Bill Bryan and Shane Pool, consultants with Belton, Texas-based Detain Inc., were contracted to assess the sheriff’s office’s jail operations to help address compensation, staffing and crowding concerns voiced mostly by BCSO officials and staff.

The consultants said they looked at compensation and overtime; the number of available staffers and how they are used at the detention center; overall jail operations and best practices; and the inmate population.

According to the report, the Bexar County Jail held 4,365 inmates as of May 1, totaling 85% capacity of the facility.

The consultants concluded that, on the whole, the local jail system was meeting all statutory and regulatory requirements. The consultants added that their analysis mirrored a review contained in the April Texas Commission on Jail Standards inspection report.

“Considering the jail’s TCJS compliance issues over the past several years, the results of this year’s TCJS inspection is a considerable accomplishment considering the staffing and crowding challenges faced by the agency over the last several years, and particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report said.

Bryan and Pool did note areas where the county could improve compensation, saying that starting pay and overall pay structure for Bexar County’s licensed detention staff was significantly behind their counterparts in three other major metropolitan jails in Texas and in several neighboring counties.

According to data, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office’s starting wage is nearly 16% below the starting wages of starting wages in the other major Texas metro regions.

The consultants, among other things, recommended a 15%-20% entry-level wage increase, changes to work shifts, a sign-on bonus for all newly hired detention officers, adding steps to the detention officer pay scale, streamlined operations, and ways to redirect inmates to diversion or in-custody pretrial programs to help lower the total jail population.

The consultants also noted the 230 vacant staff positions at the jail, saying the county’s inability to fill those spots faster has led to a policy of forced overtime. The consultants added that attrition, an elevated inmate population and a difficult recruiting atmosphere have compounded hiring matters.

The Deputy Sheriffs Association of Bexar County responded to the jail audit, saying the report confirmed many of the union’s grievances, specifically those regarding recruitment and retention.

“According to the study, the BCSO’s midpoint wage is 26.5% below that of other major Texas counties, while its maximum hourly wage is 39.3% higher. These factors undermine the BCSO’s ability to hire and damages retention,” a statement from the DSABC said.

The DSABC cited other highlighted issues in the third-party jail review, claiming the report confirms how the county has short-changed or minimized “the importance of public safety.”

The union also said it agreed with the consultant’s recommendation against privatizing the jail.

“Privatization has been proven not to work in the past,” DSABC officials said.