The Waco Police Department is requesting the city council consider adding 20 officers within the next two years.
According to Waco Police Spokesman Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco's population has in the last several years but the number of officers has not increased in nearly 10 years. He said the last significant increase of personnel was from 2004 to 2007.
"As our population increases, which it has nine percent over the past few years, we know there is going to be a need for police services, a heavier call load. There is going to have additional officers to work the streets, to work events, to work things that go around in Waco so we are trying to prepare for that," Swanton said.
According to Swanton, there are 246 officers in Waco right now and the department has at least the minimum number of officers required each shift. However, at times having those officers may not be enough to respond to all the calls for service immediately so they need to prioritize them.
"Even if we have dual shifts we still get behind with calls because the area we serve is large, because the population we serve is large,” Swanton said.
In addition, he said the number of requests the police department is getting for off-duty police officers to work at community and private events is increasing.
"We want to be able to provide that level of safety for our citizens and also that opportunity to interact with those citizens at those events," Swanton said.
The additional officers would also serve for proactive policing, attend civic events and neighborhood association meetings. In addition, they would hire more detectives and be part of a program that targets repeat offenders.
He said there would be a downside if additional officers are not added.
"We'll keep pushing through. We'll keep struggling. We'll still be here. We'll keep providing law enforcement services. The unfortunate side is that if it doesn't pass is that we may not get to do, such as the proactive side," Swanton said.
Adding officers to the force is something several Waco residents would welcome.
"I don't think there are enough officers to do what they need to do,” Glenn Seay said.
Justin Hinton, who is also a Waco resident, would like officers to target additional areas.
"I would be okay with it. I would like police to focus more on property crime rather than traffic enforcement,” Hinton said.
Seay said he would support paying more in taxes to add officers. However, others residents like Hinton said he wouldn’t support it, if it required paying additional taxes.
"If that's the stipulation, I wouldn't be interested probably…because I need all the money I have right now,” Hinton said.
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