RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) — City leaders and the police department itself acknowledge staffing levels for the Richmond Police Department are at an all-time low.
The department is struggling to fill vacant positions, and recruit officers which is resulting in excessive overtime.
Officers are reportedly feeling stretched, thin and overworked. Most days, several of them are working double shifts and wearing them down.
“Is it sustainable? No,” Department Spokesperson Lieutenant Matt Stonebraker said. “But right now, we’re able to get by and our officers are doing a great job doing it.”
Two fiscal years ago the department boasted 175 sworn positions. However today, the budget has allocated enough funds for 145 sworn positions.
But Stonebraker says the number of officers on the streets is actually 101, when you factor in the number of officers out on vacation or injury leaves.
“We haven’t been this low in a very long time if ever,” Stonebraker.
The lieutenant says the city needs to help with recruitment, by offering a more competitive benefits and compensation package.
Mayor tom butt agrees, but says his staff is still awaiting the results on a study detailing how the police department’s compensation compares to others. Meanwhile, he too is noticing the impact fewer officers is having on services.
“It’s almost impossible in Richmond to get an abandoned car moved or get officers to patrol neighborhoods and give tickets to speeders, and that kind of thing,” Richmond Mayor Tom Butt said.
An officer with nearly 14 years on-duty, and president of the Richmond Police Officer’s association Benjamin Terriault says.
Many property crimes are not being reported or investigated because the department does not have enough people to look into them, and residents are keeping quiet because they don’t want to waste their time reaching out.
“I feel that we’ll have more people leave and we will not be able to attract good quality people to be police officers,” Richmond Police Officers Association President Benjamin Therriault said.
Terriault, who is also running for Contra Costa County Sheriff, was one of at least 16 officers forced to work overtime last week to cover vacant shifts. That’s considered a high number, but not out of the ordinary in recent months.