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Stockton police union warns public of continuing officer shortage

The Stockton Police Department is short over 120 officers as the department continues to recruit across the nation.

STOCKTON, Calif. — As Stockton holds the second annual Flavor Fest at Weber Point downtown, the city's police association is noticing a difference to just how many officers are deployed to these community events due to staffing shortages. 

Couple Alex and Alejandra Dominguez are excited to come to Stockton for the festival, happy about how events like this "bring people out." 

And while festival goers are seeing a highly visible police presence, the Stockton Police Officers Association says the show of force of officers at the event is much different overall.

There are currently 364 officers on the force, but the department is authorized for 485, according to the department.

The Stockton Police Officers Association point out a number of police units are understaffed and in need of more officers.

"I don't think the community needs to be so afraid that they can't go about their normal day, but they need to be cognizant that there are less police officers out there," said Patrick High, President of the Stockton Police Officers Association.

High has 16 years experience as a police officer. He works in the Investigations Division and is part of a federal task force.

He says there are a number of ways the shortage is affecting the department. 

He says the Community Response Team, which takes illegal guns off the streets and more, has 10 officers but should have 20. The Gang Unit, has four officers but should have eight. The Homicide Unit, has 12 on-call officers but should have sixteen.

When we asked for confirmation of the numbers, the Stockton Police Department said "we won't be able to confirm the investigation detective numbers."

"We see that that's a trend that's happening as we've continued to lose officers and little has been done to retain the current ones that we have," said High, who adds departments in other cities offering higher salaries heavily recruit officers with Stockton PD.

High says that is making it difficult to shutdown sideshows like one at the Stockton Arena Saturday night.

High says something was tossed at a patrol car broke its windshield.

A Stockton Police District patrol vehicle on hand also had objects thrown at it.

"The city has saved substantially in payroll savings by the fact they haven't had to pay 130 officers this year. That money went somewhere. It needs to be redirected to the ones that are still here," said High.

In a statement, the Stockton Police Department says in part, "Stockton Police Department is dedicated to keeping the public safe everyday. Patrol Officers provide a presence and respond to in-progress and emergency calls being reported without delay."

The department also says injury shootings are down this year by 38%.

However, homicides are up slightly.

The department adds it continues to recruit future officers locally and across the state and country.

WATCH MORE: Three-Day 'Flavor Fest' returns to Stockton for 2nd year in 2023

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