LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Police departments everywhere are suffering officer shortages. Last week, the FOP spoke out about how critical the situation is at the Lexington Police Department, saying the city isn't prioritizing the problem.
By the end of June, the Lexington Police Department is expected to be 100 officers short, a number the FOP president says may go up even more with a dozen additional officers applying for other police jobs. The union questions how seriously city leaders are taking the growing number of departures.
"All cities are experiencing this and it is concerning," said Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.
The department is currently 15% shy of full capacity, which is 633 officers. Mayor Gorton says she's hopeful the force will be full again. She's added two recruit classes for next year.
"These two classes in our budget should have about 40 [people] in each class, and I feel confident we're going to get our numbers back up," Gorton said.
As we reported, the city has spent substantially more money on overtime just to fill vacant or additional patrol shifts. This fiscal year alone is up more than 60% from last year. Within days of our story, the city cut all overtime across the department except for OT needed to cover beat staffing, the required minimums for a basic patrol shift.
Is it a sign of critical circumstances? Ken Armstrong, Commissioner of Public Safety, says no.
"Words from the chief himself, it's common practice to re-evaluate it at end of the fiscal year and address it as needed," said Armstrong.
The commissioner says the allocation of personnel and recruitment remains at the top of the city's list. The FOP says to use only overtime funds for beat staffing shows just how critical the staffing numbers are.
"If anyone thinks we're not taking this seriously, that couldn't be further from the case; we take it very seriously," said Armstrong.