Critical staffing levels at Jefferson City Police Department

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Jefferson City Police Department told ABC 17 News Thursday staffing levels are critically low.

The department is short 16 staff members.

Six are out on medical or military leave, four positions will be left vacant because of city budget issues, and five or six police officer positions are vacant after the city offered employees an incentive to quit earlier this year.

Capt. Doug Shoemaker said the department has been playing with officers schedules to make the staff shortage work.

But, he said the department runs the risk of overworking officers and creating low morale.

"Overtime is through the roof," Shoemaker said.

Last month alone, the department booked more than 1,000 hours of overtime. That cost the city an extra $25,000.

Shoemaker said even if they hired five officers today, they still would not be street-ready until at least May 2014.

Realistically, he said the officers will be hired within the next two months and would be able to relieve some of the over time by late next summer.

In the meantime, council members are looking into ways to provide more funding for the police department.

One idea, is to charge organizations for the use of officers at special events.

 "I think if we do it we'd have to be fair about it because there are other on-call services that we don't charge for," said Carrie Carroll, Jefferson City Council member.

This is a discussion that the Police Department tells ABC 17 they will stay out of.

"You know it doesn't matter to us where the funding source comes from. We have to ensure whatever event it is that we have adequate staffing," said Shoemaker.

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