APD troops almost nearly two dozen light - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

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May 26, 2005

Albany-- The Albany Police Department is under staffed by a count of 21.

But the Interim Chief says they are not short on the street. Officers are being moved from other duties back to police patrols.

The Albany Police is budgeted to have 207 sworn officers, but even short handed, the Chief says there are enough cops to protect the public. Interim Chief Bob Boren said "That's not a problem, if I have to get out and ride a beat. The beats are full."

Right now Albany is 21 officers short, so the working police are getting lots of overtime. To fill vacancies, Boren has brought back nine School Resource Officers, two School Officers from Albany Tech, two D.A.R.E. officers, and three Officers who were working in the Marshall's Office and Code Enforcement.

"They weren't really performing the functions of Police Officers, and put them back to work on the street," Boren said.

Hiring new officers is difficult. Of their most recent 60-person recruitment class, only five were hired. Now they are on their way to the academy, for six to eight months of training.

Boren said "It's not easy. You don't just pin a badge and a gun on them anymore. The academy's tough."

The competition for trained officers is high across the country, with Homeland Security hiring top local officers. Boren says he does not want to make the mistake of the previous chief, hiring people who should not be officers, to fill numbers.

Boren said "I live by the creed that ability without integrity has no value."

He said the City Commission is helping as much as they can, giving pay raises. "We got a new law enforcement center which I think is going to help morale and attract. We just got pay parity with Dougherty County, that has helped. We got an incentive plan in place, that is helping."

Right now a starting Albany Police Officer will make a little over $12.00 an hour, about $25,000 a year. Not much money, as Albany competes to hire enough qualified Police Officers to fill their department.

Albany Police respond to 130,000 to 140,000 calls a year. Next year the city commission will ask the police department to cut their budget ten percent, just like all other city departments.

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