Staffing of public safety employees in Florence at critically low levels

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FLORENCE, Ala. – Public safety divisions in the city of Florence are at critical staffing levels.

Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler

During a committee meeting this afternoon, Police Chief Ron Tyler outlined the staffing issues his department is seeing.

Shock filled the conference room as Tyler read off the numbers. Of the 110 sworn officers his department has, 26 are unable to perform their duties at the moment.

There is a variety of reasons for the shortage. Some officers are on military assignment, retirements, extended medical leave, and resignations.

“It’s just hard to provide the same level of service when you only have 77% of your staff that’s available to work,” stated Tyler.

Tyler told the meeting of council members, services have had to be cut.

The dedicated traffic unit has been eliminated. Other divisions within the department have been reduced in staffing; putting more officers back on the streets.

Not helping the matter, recruiting numbers are way down.

“The agencies that incentivize the most, that sweeten the pot the most are going to get more applicants there,” Tyler explained. “We, again not trying to be front-runners or anything, we just want to be competitive with other agencies around here.”

Tyler proposed eliminating positions among the ranks to save money. Savings which can be put into substantial pay increases and incentives for new recruits.

Chief Tyler is also recommending changes in the hiring process. He hopes to retain the applicants who are on the fence in passing the city implemented tests and could so with a little bit of training.

The Public Safety Committee meeting will be meeting with the Florence Fire Department to discuss issues within their department. They are also facing a major employee shortage.

Recommendations from the Public Safety Committee will be made to the full city council for consideration.