For Immediate Release
PR #:1700083
Date Issued:Oct 10, 2017 - 12:59pm

Sheriff's Office quarterly update to County Commissioners highlights staffing shortages, security needs, and inmate health

CONTACT:Bob Harmon
Washoe County Sheriff's Office
Office 775-785-6235
Cell 775-722-5517

Concerns about staffing shortages, inmate health issues, and needed security improvements highlight an update on the Washoe County Detention Facility presented to the Board of County Commissioners today by Chief Deputy Tom Green of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Detention Bureau.

Today’s presentation is the first in a series of quarterly reports aimed at updating commissioners about operations and conditions at the detention facility. The presentation highlighted ongoing issues with staffing, inmate health and welfare, and security needs.


  • Although the average daily population of the detention facility increased only slightly in the last year, the percentage of inmates who are felons charged with violent crimes, and gang-affiliated inmates, has increased significantly.
  • As a result, the facility has noted an uptick of both inmate on inmate batteries and inmate on staff batteries (although the facility has never had an in-custody murder and violent inmate on inmate, or inmate on staff attacks are still rare).
  • Current allotted staff levels are still well below pre-recession staffing levels.
  • Allotted staffing levels have remained flat since Fiscal Year 2014/2015.
  • Current allotted staff levels are not sufficient to properly staff the facility, leading to an alarming rate of overtime use (over ½ of the authorized overtime budget for the year was used during the first quarter).

Inmate Health and Welfare:

  • The inmate population at the Washoe County Detention Facility is generally unhealthier than a traditional general sampling of the public.
  • Not unlike other jails, people who come to the Washoe County jail often have poor nutrition, poor hygiene, and do not seek regular medical care outside the facility.
  • Approximately ¾ of the inmates housed at the Washoe County Detention Facility as of August 2017 were under treatment for a chronic medical condition.
  • Nearly half of the jail’s population is described as “extremely ill” by the detention facility’s experienced, contracted medical provider.
  • As a result, the detention facility’s contracted medical provider, Naphcare, logged 7,700 hours in staff time during just one 30 day period (June 30 – July 30, 2017).

The Sheriff’s Office is preparing to issue a new Request for Proposal for a detention facility medical provider. This contract/provider will need to meet the needs of the above-mentioned challenges as well as increases in mental illness and drug abuse in our community.

Security Needs:

  • The detention facility at 911 Parr Boulevard was opened in 1988 and has seen several expansions since then.
  • There is an urgent need to replace worn locks, doors, bathroom facilities and cameras, as well as other capital improvement projects necessary to maintain an aging facility.

Washoe County Sheriff Chuck Allen said that he welcomed the opportunity to keep commissioners informed as to the challenges faced by the regional detention facility in a changing society. The Sheriff recently hosted a symposium for local civic, law enforcement, and judicial leaders to discuss some of these challenges and share the initial results of an audit of the Washoe County Detention Facility conducted by the National Sheriffs’ Association’s National Center for Jail Operations at Sheriff Allen’s request.  

Major takeaways from the jail audit include:

  • Challenges faced by Washoe County, including mental illness and opioid abuse, are national issues faced by counties throughout the country.
  • Current jail staffing is inadequate based on changes in the population of the community and within the facility.
  • Physical needs of the facility need to be addressed.
  • The jail is not the proper environment to cure mental health issues, there is a need for greater collaboration and services from the community as a whole.








The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to preserving a safe and secure community with professionalism, respect, integrity and the highest commitment to equality. Sheriff Chuck Allen is the 26th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County since the Office was created in 1861. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office strives to ensure public safety by building trust and creating partnerships within the diverse communities in which we serve. We will promote the dignity of all people supported by our words and actions through open communication while fostering an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect.

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