Mass. PD to end night shift patrols despite new staffing grant
The department needs at least six police officers to staff a midnight patrol, but they currently only have two
By Ashley Silver
GREENFIELD, Mass. — Despite being awarded a $375,000 grant to boost staffing levels, a Mass. police chief painted a grim picture during a recent city council meeting, discussing the elimination of night shift patrols.
During the meeting, Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh announced that the department would cease to staff police officers from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. starting Feb. 1 due to staffing level shortages, Masslive.com reported. The department has reportedly been facing staffing issues since last year due to resignations and retirements. Haigh told the council that due to these circumstances, there would no longer be enough officers to staff overnight shifts.
“Your midnight shift is going away on February 1,” Haigh said at the council meeting. “This is not a threat. I’m not here to scare people. This is a financial and personnel obligation to the city. It’s a six-month to a year problem that we are looking at right now.”
Dispatchers will continue to work from the police station so that 911 calls will continue to be received, but they will reroute the calls to the city’s fire department and state police as needed.
The department has been struggling since the city council reduced the police department’s proposed budget by 10% last year. The agency has now gone from 34 officers to 28 due to departures. The police chief made it known that the department would need at least six police officers to staff a midnight patrol, but there are currently two officers available.
The department recently received a $375,000 staffing grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. However, Haigh said that the department had applied for grant funding to pay for eight new officers, but was only awarded enough funding to hire three.
The grant provides $375,000 over three years, or $125,000 each year, to pay for the three officers. In the fourth year, the department must “absorb” the three officers or else they lose the grant and will be required to pay it back, according to Haigh.
“This grant is not a fix-all, I want to caution everybody when we are talking about it,” Haigh said during the meeting. “It’s three people, it’s still not six people for the midnight shift.”
After speaking with Haigh, the city council voted to set up a special assembly to find a resolution to the overnight staffing problem.