Amid growing concerns for the safety of guards and inmates, the Bexar County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved approximately half a million dollars to repair broken locks at the county jail.

The Commissioners’ Court opened a tender to repair the locks in May. On Tuesday, he chose Cornerstone Detention Products Inc. to retrofit existing locks on 396 doors spread across nine units in Towers B and C of the prison.

The measure was approved on the consent agenda, meaning there was no discussion of it at the regular meeting.

The move comes as new leadership of the Bexar County Deputy Sheriffs Association has expressed growing concern about the safety of guards working at the jail, due to unsafe conditions and understaffed conditions.

“We’re glad to see something being done, but that’s only scratching the surface of the overall problem,” BCDSA Vice Chairman Captain Lance Spengler said of Tuesday’s vote.

Spengler spoke last month about the prison conditions in an extensive interview.

“All we want are the locks fixed in the maximum security units where you have the worst of the worst,” he said.

“They changed the doors, now the doors are out of whack, so they have to go in and realign the locks to make them work properly, and they don’t want to spend any money,” Spengler said of the Court of Commissioners. .

BCDSA President Lt. Ronald Tooke said in the same interview that the guards face attempted attacks almost daily and morale is at an all-time low.

“We’re getting to the point where we don’t have enough people,” Tooke said. “We’re all freaked out about it.”

On Tuesday, Tooke said the jail is currently short of about 300 detention officers.

“Our prison is in poor condition due to lack of preventative maintenance and separation from other areas to repair the current breakdown…creating an even greater security concern,” Tooke said in response to the court ruling. commissioners.

In January, an inmate was stabbed to death after two other inmates bypassed at least one lock inside the jail, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said at the time. It is unclear whether the locks that led to this incident will be replaced under the approved contract.

Salazar could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

In the coming weeks, the Court of Commissioners is expected to review two different consultant studies — one commissioned by the court, the other commissioned by Salazar — into local prison operations.

The studies were requested last year amid concerns over rising overtime costs and prison staff vacancies.

Spengler said the union invited members of the Court of Commissioners to visit the prison. So far, one commissioner, Rebecca Clay-Flores (Pct. 1) has sent her chief of staff.

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