BUTTE - The Butte Police Department is dealing with a serious shortage of experienced officers and this has forced the department to drastically change the way they schedule officers to patrol the streets.
“Right now, we are having a manpower crisis, so we are to 12-hour shifts to increase manpower,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.
Butte police only have about 46 officers in a department that needs about 52 to operate three eight-hour shifts. The police union agreed to a new schedule of two 12-hour shifts per day. Officers get more days off for working longer days.
“The downside is if you’re having a long shift, a tough shift that’s normally eight hours long and now you’ve got four more hours at the end of that shift,” said Lester.
And while there may be a shortage of police officers in Butte, many residents in these Butte neighborhoods will tell you, there’s no shortage in crime.
“Even my neighbor behind you in the middle of the night, they crept into their house and stole their purses from the front room. Luckily, they didn’t injure the two older women,” said Iron Street resident Trudy Healy.
“When you can’t even go to work without your personal possessions stolen in broad daylight, that’s a problem, when you’re losing sleep at night because you’re worried about people going through your car, your garage, your yard, your home, that’s a problem," Neighborhood Watch organizer Allison Andersen said.
Butte police have new recruits going through training, but it takes time. New hires have to attend the Policy Academy, which is a 12-week program, and then the Field Training Officer program for another 12 weeks. It can take up to 8 months for a new officer to be ready for patrol.
“We’ll be a young department, over the next year, we’ll really transition seniority-wise, but I’m really looking forward to it and I think we’ll have some really great, young officers out there that are working hard,” the sheriff said.