SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Across the nation, police departments are struggling with staffing issues. The Sacramento Police Department is having the same issue and a recent increase in homicides is shining a light on the issue.
Sacramento Police said they struggled like most industries coming out of the pandemic looking for employees. They understand the community's concern and want to reassure people they are maintaining all critical functions like patrol and even some special community units.
The Sacramento Police Department is authorized for 769 employees this budget year. Currently, they have 684 sworn employees leaving them 85 people short. Chief Kathy Lester tells us they have a class of about 30 in the academy which will help.
“It does impact quite honestly the ability to implement additional programs, to put people in places you would like to see so we are always trying to expand our efforts and to work on a number of challenges that face a community such as ours but I can tell you gun violence is very a priority of this department and city and we are focusing an immense amount of resources and officers,” said Chief Lester.
With a recent string of homicides-- four dead in three separate incidents in a week-- we asked Sergeant Zach Eaton about staffing for that division.
“We have 12 homicide detectives but we also have other detective units that support or homicide units and we’re definitely going to be using those units to assist our homicide detectives, however, our homicide detectives will still be lead investigators on these homicides,” said Eaton.
But some community members warn the problem of gun violence is not a quick fix of just hiring more officers. Community advocate Berry Accius says he believes the community is split, some want more officers while others would prefer more resources. He believes the issue stems from illegal guns and a lack of resources out of the pandemic.
“Start investing in these communities to make them a better community so young people or old people aren’t running around with guns feeling that having a gun is the only way I can stay safe so I think there are a lot of deeper conflicts in a situation like this. This is just not getting more police everything will be solved,” said Accius.
Accius says this is an issue not unique to Sacramento but is happening across the country.
Sacramento Police has launched a variety of programs for recruitment including a partnership with CSU Sacramento and a 30 for 30 initiative to have 30 percent of staff be women by 2030.
The department also started its links to law enforcement program on the 28th which is a free five-week course offered in Asian pacific islander, Hispanic and black cohorts in an effort to diversify local departments.
Watch More from ABC10: Inside the Sacramento Police Academy | The Recruits