LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Metro Department of Corrections is seeing a slew of issues and COVID-19 is only adding pressure.

The Louisville Metro Corrections Fraternal Order of Police says the department is hurting after the death of officer Rick Longoria as the staffing shortage has turned "dire" inside the jail in downtown Louisville.

Longoria died from complications related to Friday.

"I mean, it's it is a tough loss. I've known that guy since I've started here. And it's just, it's gonna be a really difficult one," Daniel Johnson, Louisville Corrections FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) Lodge 77 President, said.

Johnson said that Longoria had been forced to work double shifts because of the staffing shortage and thought he was tired because he was overworked, not knowing it was COVID.

"And we're seeing now, that we're almost disposable," Johnson said. "If we're having these issues and we know we're having them, not hypothetical. Why is something not being done to fix it?"

While there's a shortage of corrections officers, the inmate population hasn't stopped growing.

"People are sleeping on floors and under tables and it's so jam packed that you can barely see the floor with inmates, in the middle of a pandemic," Johnson said.

Johnson said he understands why the department is having trouble recruiting, saying who 

Who wants to work closely to people who have COVID-19, plus a potentially dangerous environment as it is, for a low hourly wage?

"And these are the risks that you're asked to take working in corrections. It's one of the reasons, we feel, is a huge leading factor to all the vacancies," he said.

Johnson proposes raising the hourly wage from $17 to something more competitive to be able to appropriately staff the jail, then other issues will start to be resolved and risks will be lowered.

"The conditions in the jail are awful right now," he said.

In August, the jail announced the launching of three incentive programs in hopes of increasing recruitment and employee retention.

Johnson is scheduled to speak before the Metro Council Tuesday at the Government Oversight Committee meeting at 5 p.m.

He also said he is scheduled to meet with the U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh, who's in Kentucky on Wednesday.

Longoria's family is preparing for funeral arrangements at the end of the week. Longoria's son says he's grateful for the outpouring of support the family has received.

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