Blytheville Police Department understaffed during shooting spree

Blytheville Police Department understaffed during shooting spree
Blytheville Police (Source: KAIT)

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - With multiple shootings reported in Blytheville over the past week, the police department is working extra while also running low on manpower.

According to Chief Ross Thompson, the police department's staff is the lowest it's been in 10 years.

The department had a full staff of 58 officers 12 years ago, but now they only have 33 staff members.

Thompson said that they had to reluctantly lower the full staff to just 39 officers due to budget cuts.

He said the 10 shooting calls they have responded to in just seven days has lowered the community and the department's morale.

"We had kind of a nice law there for a while, but this has really disrupted the peace," Thompson said. "This has really taken away some of the peace of mind in some of the citizens that I think we had reinstilled."

Thompson said he currently has three general investigators, three narcotics investigators, and one captain who he feels can and will solve these shootings.

But he also pointed out that they receive a lot of help from the community.

"What we were seeing was that people were coming up afterward, and they were communicating, and they were talking with us," Thompson said.

He said even though they are understaffed, they are still working day and night to make sure the community of Blytheville is safe.

"You know, we're not going to surrender, we're going to keep on going with it," said Thompson. "Like I said, we got two warrants and we are looking at more."

Thompson also said they are looking to send a few of their current officers to the police academy later this year.

That means they will have a greater need for manpower then.

Thompson hopes to hire more officers before that happens.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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