Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and Police Chief James Rovella are calling current staffing levels at the police force "a crisis" due to attrition.
As levels continue to drop, overtime costs have increased. Officials said the goal is to maintain a delicate balance of reducing overtime and rebuilding the force.
"There's no question that one of the things we need to do to make our city as safe as possible and our neighborhoods as strong as possible is to address this staffing crisis that we've got," said Mayor Bronin.
He stressed the importance of getting more police officers on the street at a town hall meeting Thursday night.
A few years ago, there were around 500 officers on the force.
This year, the number is hovering around 380.
"It's going to take time to rebuild obviously we have to do that at a time when we're in a budget crisis too...but that's not an area where we can afford to invest," said Bronin.
The crisis in police staffing has been years in the making, according to the police chief.
"We actually planned that out four years ago and showed how many officers we'd potentially lose and unfortunately we're here today," said Chief Rovella.
To combat low staffing levels, the hiring of the first police academy class was accelerated. 22 students are expected to graduate in August.
Until then, overtime costs will continue to rise over budget.
"First of all it's really hitting us in the pocketbook pretty heavy and that's taxpayer money so we have to come back to a balance of the appropriate number of officers versus the appropriate amount of overtime," said Chief Rovella.
The chief stressed that the city is safe and they are aggressively recruiting and working with the mayors office.
The mayor will host another town hall next month.
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