Weld County Sheriff’s Office scales back on services to keep the jail fully staffed

Weld County North Jail Complex in Greeley
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The Weld County North Jail Complex in Greeley, April, 2020.

In order to handle a staff shortage at the county jail, the Weld County Sheriff's Office is pulling its employees from other services to work at the facility.

According to a Facebook post, Animal Control Services will be temporarily suspended. Other calls will be handled on a case-by-case basis and will depend on staff availability. Some calls will be handled by phone or through the online reporting system.

The post also said Sheriff Steve Reams’ primary responsibility is to keep the Weld County jail operational. They will return to their original assignments once the shortage is addressed.

Weld County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Matt Turner said the number of employees affected varies.

“It's important to look at all of our employees as we are experiencing shortages in every single area,” Turner said. “Whether that's uniformed deputies, civilians who work in our booking department, counselors — we have shortages everywhere. And, we are just feeling the strain of that nonstop.”

The Weld County Sheriff’s Office has 460 employees and serves more than 30 municipalities in northern Colorado. 

The jail has been dealing with the shortage since 2020. Since then, they have seen a decline in applications. Reams and Turner cited the negative perception of law enforcement, poor legislation, and the job’s liabilities and risks as reasons for the shortage.

Turner said they have tried everything in their recruiting efforts.

“Last year we even went as far as to hire a recruiting firm to help us put our job descriptions in places we had never tried before,” Turner said. “We worked very closely with our human resources department to make sure that's happening, and we're still running short. 

The biggest area of need is uniformed deputies. In 2023, they hired more deputies than they had in previous years, but still need more.

“Weld County Sheriff's Office prides itself in one big thing in our jail, and that's it. We run a direct supervision facility —  that we have a deputy inside every housing unit with the inmates,” Turner said. “We don't supervise the inmates from outside the housing unit. We are inside the housing unit with the inmates. This ensures that we're there for medical emergencies, for any type of critical incident that might happen, and it is the best way to run a jail, but it's also, it requires a lot of staff.”

As for animal control services, Turner said the Weld County Sheriff’s Office isn’t legally obligated to provide the service. He said it’s something they saw the communities needed.

“We get tons of calls, whether that's to catch dogs, interact with livestock. We have birds that constantly are getting injured. There's so many different calls that they go to,” Turner said. “They're extremely busy, they're extremely important, and unfortunately our community is going to feel that they're not available.” 

The NoCo Humane Society, which serves Weld and Larimer counties, said in the last six months the Weld County Sheriff’s Office brought 162 animals into their Weld campus in Evans. In an email response, NoCo Humane Society spokesperson Amanda Meyer said they appreciate the Weld County Sheriff’s Office’s services and will rely on other resources to shelter animals.

There is no timetable for when the temporarily moved employees will return to their original assignments. But, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with law enforcement in municipalities throughout the county.

“The Weld County Sheriff's Office would not be making this decision if it was not needed immediately. And frankly, it's been needed for almost a year now," Turner said. “We are in the process of figuring out how to move people and how to reassign people, and the community is going to start seeing those changes take place next week.”