ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A reassuring message has been issued by the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit Commander: Although they're down officers, they're still getting the job done.
Major Prurince Dice said it's a problem that's being felt nationwide, as more agencies are experiencing shortages, due to low pay, qualifications, or stress.
But he assured the community, even with the shortage, it does not affect his team's ability to serve and enforce the law.
"It's not affecting the way we do business," said Major Dice.
He said despite having five vacant spots, his team continues to be effective at getting drugs off the street.
"We sometimes place additional assignments on multiple people, but they get the job done," he said.
Major Dice said this isn't the first time they've experienced shortages, and his department isn't the only one in need of more officers.
"The sheriff's department is short, the police department is short, the county police department is short," said Major Dice. "We just, when we get somebody, sometimes it's hard to keep them. And sometimes it's just hard to find good people to work."
Major Dice said he understands those challenges, and that's why multiple agencies work together to offset being short staffed.
At Tuesday night's Albany City Commission meeting, Major Dice addressed just how efficient his agency has been despite the shortage.
In 2015, the number of arrests totaled at 249, but for 2017, there have been 334 arrests to date, and the year's not over.
In 2015, close to $482,000 in drugs were seized, but in 2017, drug agents seized over $1.4 million in drugs.
Major Dice hopes these statistics give residents peace of mind.
"We would love to have a full-staff agency, but quality over quantity means more to me than anything," he said. "I would much rather have an agency full of qualified quality officers, than to have a full staff of officers that are incompetent."
Major Dice said they're constantly updating recruiting and retention strategies to fill those vacant positions.
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