KILLEEN, TX — An officer shortage has led to a decision to lengthen shifts for the Killeen Police Department.
“The officers voted to go to a 12-hour model because of our attrition rate getting to the level that it’s insufficient for patrolling,” said Bobby Castillo, the Killeen Police Employee Association President.
He says that this change could have a major impact on morale and safety.
"People are worrying about the instability, and they’re seeking employment in other places. Not only for the benefits and compensation but because of the outlook of instability that the city has at this point,” said Castillo.
However, leadership in the department says this is a smart decision.
“12-hour shifts are much more manpower efficient, allowing a better utilization of resources,” said Commander Jeff Donohue, in an email to Central Texas News Now.
He says this will improve safety in the city by putting more officers on the street.
But Castillo disagrees.
“The community expects a certainty expectation of police services and every time a police officer leaves, it causes such a huge issue, both internally for the safety of officers but also for the community because they’re the ones that will have to wait for assistance, they’re going to have their cases delayed because of the lack of positions either available or because of the vacancies,” Castillo said.
Over the last few budget years, 23 authorized officer positions have been removed by the department.
They currently have 19 officer vacancies. There are also 21 officers in training.
“All of these factors have caused a shortage on the number of available officers to work the road and/or investigations,” said Donohue.
Officer shortages are a reality in many communities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 700,000 officers are working in the United States. This is a sharp decline of about 23,000 officers since 2013.
We reached out to the City of Killeen. They have not responded as of Tuesday evening when the article was released.