The New Haven Police Department is facing a significant shortage of police officers.
NHPD has 495 budgeted positions. But by the end of the week, there will be 108 vacancies, according to Officer David Hartman, a spokesperson for the department.
The next recruiting class has been delayed because of an issue with the background check process, and police say at least 20 more members of the force could retire by the end of the year.
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Police said it costs more than $60,0000 to train a recruit at the New Haven Police Academy. But Hartman said some new officers don’t keep it a secret that once the training is done, they plan to pursue higher paying police jobs.
“If you are trained as vested officer in New Haven go through all of that and you’re offered a job that pays 20- $30,000 more for the same job, doing less work, I think it’s often a no-brainer,” Hartman said.
Hartman said they’re leaving for anything from federal jobs with the DEA, to the NYPD, to other local departments like neighboring Hamden.
Halfway through 2018, Hartman said, the number of resignations and retirements is greater than all of last year.
“About 20 years ago we had two or three classes that ran about the same time so they’re all eligible to retire,” said Mayor Toni Harp (D- New Haven).
There is also the issue of the New Haven Police Union members voting overwhelmingly to go to arbitration, rather than accept the city’s contract offer after two years without one in place.
“Most of this issue is health care, insurance caps, those with families who are police officers are potentially greatly affected by this,” Hartman said.
Fewer officers in the force means more of them to pick up extra shifts.
“Many don’t want to deal with stalled negotiations and long hours. These hours are not from extra duty, but the shortage of officers and being ordered to stay extra hours is what’s putting a strain on the officers,” Union President Craig Miller told NBC Connecticut.
Two police officers are also assigned to protect the mayor. She said she’d consider losing that security detail if the number of vacancies continues to grow.
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