Going into the new year, we always get excited and look forward to starting out fresh and getting things “in order”. This year was no different as we rang in the new year trying to stay positive. It can often be hard to look forward to a new year when we have so many big issues that we are facing as an organization.
First and foremost are the staffing issues that we are seeing at every station across the city. I worked New Years eve at Southeast and roll call consisted of about six people for early side and another six for late side for two districts. We were non-stop the entire night!
Our manpower issues are being exacerbated by the current Covid is spike. We had over 420 officers out as of New Year’s Day which is leading to dangerous situations on the streets. We must do everything we can to protect ourselves, but the realities are that most of us will contract it at some point and most will be just fine.
But this does not help our current numbers on the streets. The closing of the red book, as much as we hate it, is a necessity right now and have urged the chief to open it back up as soon as he possibly can. We need bodies just to make sure that everyone on the streets will have back-up when needed.
The sooner our healthy officers get back to work, the faster the red book will open back up.
I have reached out to the chief and asked that we look at an overtime program just to assist patrol. No targeting offenders, just to run calls.
We know that at any one time in this city, there are calls stacked up for hours and our officers are doing an incredible job just trying to keep up. We will continue to push for more officers on patrol, as that is where it is most dangerous.
This could even be harder to deal with over the next few months with retirements. There is a possibility that we could be under 5,000 officers by summertime.
With rising crime, low staffing, low morale and a closed red book it can be hard to look at the positive. Unlike other departments, HPD is a true family. We will continue to support each other and have our brothers and sisters’ backs. We will get past this and move forward as we have done so many times before.
I am proud of our members and the work you all continue to do.
Here is to a healthy and happy NEW YEAR!