Wayne County Jail had series of issues before fatal attack, union head says

Cpl. Bryant Searcy was killed Wednesday at Wayne County Jail

The head of the Wayne County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association said there were long-running issues that led to the loss of one of their own.

DETROIT – The head of the Wayne County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association said there were long-running issues that led to the loss of one of their own.

Cpl. Bryant Searcy, 50, was fatally attacked as he was checking to make sure cells at the Wayne County Jail were locked for the night.

The attack happened Wednesday night at the Wayne County Jail Division 2 building. Sources said the attack went on for 20 to 30 minutes and Searcy’s partner, who should have been with him, was not present at the time.

Union president Reginald Crawford said short-staffing has been a major problem for the 100-year-old jail where the attack happened. He said convincing people to work there is a difficult job, so that leaves a lot of work for those who do work there.

“If you work in a correctional facility or a county jail you’re there for eight, 16 hours a day with inmates, you have contact,” Crawford said. “There is no way getting around it and that’s why we have the most dangerous job in America.”

Crawford said he -- and the entire union -- are in mourning. He can’t share specifics due to the ongoing investigation, but he said the jail’s biggest shortcoming makes dangerous conditions even worse.

“In terms of contributing factors, it’s a staff shortage that is the main issue,” Crawford said. “There is a staff shortage and I will state for the record, Cpl. Searcy was working a second shift, a double shift, 16 hours.”

A 16-hour shift is the norm for jail guards. In fact, when they go in to work on most days, they don’t know when they’ll head home because emergency orders can come, requiring a second shift, sometimes up to 22 hours.

On top of that, COVID-19 ran through the jail with more than 200 cases -- two doctors, a nurse and a deputy died.

Crawford wants to make it clear he isn’t criticizing Sheriff Benny Napoleon. He said they work together to solve problems and Napoleon is doing the best he can with what he has to work with.

Crawford believes most of the problem will go away when staff is transferred to the new jail, currently under construction. It’s estimated to open in 2021.

More: Detroit crime news


About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.