Monday, February 26, 2001
Steamboat Springs With a police department that has been perpetually short staffed for the past three to four years, the city is now attempting to hire at least one more officer to fill its needs, said the city's police chief.
The lack of a full staff has not affected the ability of the department to protect the residents of the city, but it has put an extra level of burden on the remaining officers in the system, said J.D. Hays, the director of public safety services.
"I think it's more of a drain on the personnel," Hays said. "Some people end up working a lot of overtime."
The city's police department recently lost two officers to the sheriff's department, Hays said. The city has budgeted for 16 officers and currently employs 13.
The city's patrol officers work one of three 10-hour shifts day, swing and graveyard on a rotating basis. When the department is short staffed, some of those officers may have to work 14.5 hours or come in on their days off.
Day shifts run from 6:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., swing shifts from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and graveyard shifts from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
"It can stress certain segments of our patrolmen," said Sgt. Jerry Stabile. "With the numbers lately a lot of times (the sergeants are) the second officer on patrol."
Stabile said he has had to work as a patrolman on some shifts when the department is short. Otherwise he supervises the officers on patrol.
He said he thinks the department has trouble hiring officers for some of the same reasons, including the cost of living in Steamboat, that the rest of the community has trouble hiring enough employees.
At no time does the department have less than two officers on patrol, Stabile said.