GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Wednesday marked a new first for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office as the department attempts to fill dozens of job openings.

Over the next six months, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office is looking to hire at least 30 people to work within their corrections department.

“We have about a thousand beds here and we need the staff to help support that in every way you can think of,” said Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young.

This includes 20 correctional officers, which Sheriff Michelle Lajoye-Young says is a career prone to early retirements.

“Usually in their early 50s, we’ll see people retiring out of corrections because it’s physically demanding,” LaJoye-Young said.

The Sheriff’s Office is also in need of staff in areas that may not be top of mind when you think of a jail.

“Maybe people that process court paperwork, or people to help clean the facility or maintain the facility here,” LaJoye-Young said.

However, as additional staff are in demand, there are challenges coming in contact with the right people for the openings.

“We’re working hard to trying to get up to that number but trying to do it thoughtfully with people that love the work, love to serve, want to be here,” LaJoye-Young said.

For the first time ever, the Sheriff’s Office held a job fair Wednesday which offered jail tours and put job candidates face-to-face with current staff. On-site interviews were also available.

One of those in attendance was Marcus Reyna-Zermeno from Hastings, a direct care worker who has long had an interest in corrections.

“I come from a family of law enforcement, my grandfather was a reserve police officer and then I’ve got people on the other side of my family who are corrections officers,” Reyna-Zermeno said.

As he looks at a career shift, he said he’s compelled by an opportunity to help others.

“Sometimes when you come into a place like this, they’re down on their luck and maybe my face can help them in some form,” Reyna-Zermeno said.

Lajoye-Young said bringing on more correctional officers, in particular, will be big for her staff who sometimes may work longer shifts due to a lack of relief.

“It affects everything about your sleep cycles, your family life, maybe things you do to relax. So, we want to try to do everything that we can to make sure we have proper staffing so our staff is taken care of,” LaJoye-Young said.

If you missed the job fair, you can also apply online at the Kent County website.