KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —The Knox County Sheriff’s Office has been dealing with a staff shortage for a couple of years but they are now feeling the effects of being stretched thin.

KCSO is teetering on the line of violating some federal guidelines at their jail and detention center. The Prison Rape Elimination Act was signed to make sure that there is an adequate number of staff at each detention center to ensure adequate care and supervision is given to its inmates. If they dip below that line, they have to reach out to the Feds.

“That’s the biggest concern,” Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler said. “We have to report that to the Feds if we reach a certain number and I don’t want to get to that point. We have previously had to report that but it’s not a good thing for us to have to go through.”

Sheriff Spangler says that KCSO is currently 88 to 93 personnel short in their correction division alone. 291 positions are considered fully staffed, but that deficit makes up nearly half of the entire job openings for the agency. This is leaving the jailers overworked and stressed and the agency as a whole not having as many eyes on the inmates as they need.

“It’s a situation for our officers being dangerous as well,” Sheriff Spangler said. “Obviously they are not being able to put eyes on those that need to have eyes on them and people in those positions.”

One measure the sheriff has instituted is paying the current officers overtime to try and help the situation from spiraling out of control.

“Being able to pull those people and pay them overtime has helped us tremendously,” Spangler said. “I’m thankful for the employees that have stepped up to help us with that within our corrections division.”

KCSO says that as of this morning there are around 1,100 total inmates putting the inmate-to-officer ratio at 6:1.

There are currently 190 job openings in the agency with 88 to 93 of them in the corrections division. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Sheriff’s Office, KCSO asks that you apply through their Merit Council.