‘We are exhausted:’ Local police departments understaffed could put your safety in jeopardy – Action News Jax

When every second counts, you rely on the police to be there. However, staffing shortages and burnout at agencies could put that help in jeopardy.

Action News Jax Investigates asked each of our local departments how many positions they’re budgeted for and how many are open.

About half have a vacancy rate of around 5%, except Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach Police Departments. Both have about 9% vacancy rates. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said it has close to an 11% vacancy.

There also may not be enough open positions to begin with. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the average ratio statewide is 1.6 officers per 1,000 people. Using the latest census data, we found the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office needs 76 more deputies to meet the average. St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is short 112 deputies, and Clay County Sheriff’s Office needs 45.

Full story: ‘We are exhausted:’ Local police departments understaffed could put your safety in jeopardy – Action News Jax

13 Replies to “‘We are exhausted:’ Local police departments understaffed could put your safety in jeopardy – Action News Jax”

  1. It is no surprise that vacancy rates in local departments have been on the rise considering relations between the police and the public, as well as insufficient pay. People are not eager to join organizations that have become associated with such brutality, even if a large number of cops do have good intentions. Considering this as the biggest hurdle, what community policing strategies can be taken to build relationships and make people feel safe? How do you show people who have good reason not to trust you, that you can be trusted? Police departments, much like a business, have to build a reputation. Even if the general consensus on police right now isn’t great, local departments have the potential to be important pillars in the community, which needs to be the focus if we want more applicants.

    1. Researchers are discovering that virtual bar scenes are a helpful new tool in their efforts to understand the complex connection between emotions and impulsive decision-making in the context of criminal behavior. Thanks to advancements in virtual reality (VR) technology, scientists can now imitate real-world social environments, such as bars, where people are more inclined to engage in risky or criminal actions. Virtual bar scenes are appealing because they may mimic the vibrant conversations and range of emotions seen in real-world settings. Through the use of virtual environments, researchers can see firsthand how people’s decision-making processes are impacted by emotions such as anger, frustration, or peer pressure. This allows for a deeper understanding of the psychological mechanisms that underlie criminal and impulsive behavior. How might the use of virtual reality technology in studying criminal behavior challenge traditional research methodologies and ethical considerations?

    2. I’m not sure if the pay is insufficent as the average starting pay for officers in NC is around 41k whereas in Boone with other jobs like being a nurse assistant, starting pay is around 30k annually, I’m positive PD jobs in Charlotte start at around 60-80k, even Boone and Appstate PD start at around 40k. As of october 2020 the public viewed police with 75% approval (that might have changed bc of recent events) accroding to this link https://counciloncj.org/public-perceptions-of-the-police/#:~:text=Seventy%2Dfive%20percent%20of%20Americans,police%20based%20on%20their%20encounters.%E2%80%9D
      Unfortunetly the media seems to cover largely only the bad eggs within the police (and as a whole), if the media did not cover solely the bad stuff about police I am sure that the approval ratings for police would be higher than they are right now. We have already seen a lot of police departments creating their own community policing branches that largely aim at positive community interactions and have seen positive feedback. Ripping out “bad eggs” from the police is also a good way to make the police appearance better but you can’t always weed out the bad ones, they will sort of always slip in.

  2. This is not good. When there are staffing shortages, those who are still there have to pick up extra shifts and work extra hours. There is less time to rest and have a social life. This can be very taxing on an individual. Like the article said, that can lead to burnout. Working while tired is very difficult and can lead to mistakes but when you have a high stress job and you add extra hours and no sleep? That is a recipe for disaster. The public’s opinion of police officers affects the likelihood of being able to fill in empty positions. What can be done to help increase public opinion while still being able to do police said public?

    1. Hey Sarah the concerns you have raised from the article are very true and concerning. If officers do not have really a social life this can lead to depression and fatigue. Improving public perception of police officers and law enforcement is crucial and if officers are fatigued because of overwork this can lead to bad judgment calls which can lead to a lack of trust between the community and law enforcement. I feel that if there was more of an incentive to become a police officer in our society then there would be more police officers. Also, it does not help that some local governments defund their police departments making them only available for certain calls and this leads to an even greater lack of trust which leads to more danger for the officers and civilians.

  3. The staffing shortage in law enforcement can lead to many major consequences in our criminal justice system. Some were made clear in the article, for one this can lead to slower response times to emergency calls which will lead to endangering the public and an increased crime rate if criminals know that they have more time to commit crime. Second, the officers who are working will probably have a lower drive because they are overworked and this leads to errors in judgment calls and fatigue. Also, limited resources from the department because of understaffing can lead to less community policing which will make the tension rise between the community and the department which leads to a lack of trust and more crime. The question I would ask is what is the government doing to incentivize becoming a police officer in our society? Can they do better? And if this continues what will the ultimate consequences of understaffing be?

  4. In my opinion, the damage to the criminal justice departments throughout our country is to be blamed on the media. So many stories that are presented today are about officers’ mistakes, and with the introduction of body cameras in many departments throughout the country, this is not helping the public perception of the police. This is also making drastic impacts onto staffing and funding departments, which leads to more issues. News networks tend to ignore the good the police do throughout the community, because it does not get the viewership that the mistakes do. This is damaging to the system, and unfair to the great cops across the country that are being mislabeled.

    1. I agree that the media plays a huge role in the cycle that we have found ourselves in. We are constantly fed the bad things because that is what sells unfortunately. Speaking of body cameras, are they helping or hurting the system more? What is their true impact? These are all things to consider when we start thinking about the media and footage that they use to push stories. In what ways, if any, could this damage be corrected? Lots of questions are presented when we bring the media and its impact into the light especially in comparison to the staffing and community issues that are on, what feels like, a constant rise.

    2. Hey Kason, I think you pose a great point in your perspective. I think that especially after Covid, a lot of departments faced mass burnout, which went forth to make the retention problems even worse. We need more officers, and perhaps offering more benefits or better pay can help with this issue. Officers are already faced with hours that are not helpful if you have a family, and they often face sleep deprivation, so perhaps changing to more favorable hours could help in some isolated cases. Overall, this chronic understaffing poses a great threat to public safety, and it should be addressed immediately.

  5. This article is just a representation of a much broader issue that is affecting our entire system both in Florida and across the nation. There has been a clear rise in tension between the community and police since the George Floyd incident in 2020. This tension has damaged trust as well as made it more difficult for officers to do their job. It has created a nasty cycle of staffing issues and higher crime rates, each continuing to feed into one another. You can’t help but wonder where we are to go from here. How do we break a cycle that has such a vicious grip on our departments and communities? What will policing look like moving forward as we try to mend those community relations and in turn bring more help into our departments?

  6. We call 911 for a reason, you need someone there quick! But with all these police officer job openings, who’s gonna show up? Sounds like they’re understaffed and overworked. Some counties are way behind on the recommended number of officers. How are we supposed to feel safe if there’s barely anyone to keep an eye on things?

  7. Understaffing in police departments could lead to big issues. It could lead to slower response times in emergency calls. People call 911 for emergencies and need help quickly. If the department is understaffed, someone has to pick up the slack. This could also lead to burnouts. The question is how do we make incentives for people to become police officers?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *