An entire district of St. Louis was left defenseless on Wednesday after the only two officers assigned to patrol the area called in sick, CBS4 KMOV reported.
Although the department designed each district to be patrolled by ten beat cars, the department had only two officers available to work the third district for the afternoon shift, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Other officers for the district had also called out sick or been previously injured, according to CBS4.
“On any occasion when we experience a staffing shortage in one particular area or shift, we have a number of tools available to address this,” SLMPD told the DCNF in a statement. “We are able to offer overtime pay for officers to cover the vacancy, as well as supplemental support units that can be deployed –- and redeployed –- as necessary to assist where needed. It is not uncommon for police officers to assist with calls for service in neighboring districts, even when staffing shortages are not a factor.”
The SLMPD asked officers from a neighboring district to help patrol the area as part of its “supplemental supports unit,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. One deadly shooting was reported in the third district and at least three additional non-fatal shootings took place during the staffing shortage, according to Fox2 NOW.
Cities across the country have experienced police shortages in recent years because departments have been unable to recruit as many officers as those who have retired or quit. St. Louis had some success hiring additional officers when it raised its starting pay and offered signing bonuses, but still has a shortage of over 270 officers, according to CBS4.
“There has not been an emphasis or effort on recruiting to fill the numerous vacant spots within the police department, including both commission and non-commission personnel,” the Ethical Society of Police told the Post-Dispatch. “It is impacting morale, recruitment, retention and even public safety.”
The St. Louis mayor’s department did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org