A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation finds the detention officer overtime problem at the Bexar County Jail was at least partly caused by the failure of applicants at agility, aptitude and polygraph tests.
The sheriff’s office has been heavily criticized in the past year for the millions of dollars in overtime it has paid a short-staffed group of detention officers.
Latoya Loving is a recent success story at the Bexar County Jail. She's been a detention officer for 14 months and loves her job.
"I do work a lot of overtime, but sometimes I do it because I volunteer to do it," Loving said.
Overtime has been a big problem for many officers here and it's cost the county millions.
12-year veteran Ofc. Ruben Patlan said people have quit because of it.
"Yeah, they've dropped,” Patlan said. "Some of my good friends have dropped in the past -- good people."
A Defenders investigation has now uncovered why.
Documents provided by the sheriff’s office show that out of more than 400 applicants taking the physical agility test, only 62 percent passed.
For those who passed that, some were knocked out by the aptitude test.
Out of all those eligible to take the test, 35 percent did not show up. Of those who did, 77 percent passed.
Then there were the polygraph tests, where 16 percent showed deception and were not accepted into the detention officer program and 29 percent were not tested because they admitted something unsavory about their past.
The eventual pool of successful applicants was very small.
Sheriff Susan Pamerleau admits there have been well-publicized problems with the jail. But she said she is well on her way to figuring out how to fix those problems, including hiring more detention officers.
"We will continue recruiting people as fast as we can and getting them into class," Pamerleau said.
Pamerleau said applicants are being interviewed regularly, a cadet class is underway now and another will start before the end of March.
The sheriff’s office even recruited at the rodeo for the first time.
She defended the application tests as not being too hard.
"We need great people,” Pamerleau said. “We need honest people with integrity, with a work ethic."
She said the doors are open for more good cadets and that overtime will be going down.
Pamerleau said when she went before commissioners court to explain the jail situation, there were 830 positions authorized for the jail and 50 were vacant.