Columbus police working to combat staff shortage during holiday season

Columbus police working to combat staff shortage during holiday season

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As the holiday season approaches, some community members may be worried about people stealing packages or porch pirates.

Columbus police are addressing how they will be operating this month even though they are short-staffed.

Assistant Chief Gil Slouchick said the Columbus Police Department is still more than 90 officers short right now. That’s about one-fifth of their total force. He said they’ve got a plan in place to keep you and even your gifts safe this holiday season.

“Our number one priority is answering 911 calls. When you pick up the phone and call 911, you’re supposed to get a police officer to come to you," Slouchick said.

He said although the department is more than 90 officers down this holiday season, they are trying to be proactive.

“Like during the holiday season, we’ll take some folks out of desks and from behind desks and we’re going to put them out on the streets in the neighborhoods to combat people stealing packages off of porches, burglaries, and things such as that,” Slouchick said.

Community members added their own input on this issue.

“More people should realize that these officers are doing their best to protect our city and we should have more people like that,” one man said.

“They’ve got a life and family too, “so they can’t be out here 24/7,” another man added.

Slouchick reported the department eliminated services such as funeral escorts by on-duty officers and reporting private property accidents to help ease the strain.

“We prioritize our response,” Slouchick said. “Anything that deals with life or injury we answer those calls first.”

Reserve officers are working and the department is reassigning people from the desk to the street, but community members may still see a longer response time if their concern isn’t life or death.

“If you call on a low priority call, what we consider a low priority call, “it may take the officer a little extra longer to get there and he’s not at a doughnut shop. I guarantee you he’s probably responding to a higher priority call," Slouchick.

If you’re interested in applying to lighten the load at the police department, click here.

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