MILLINGTON, Tenn. — The Millington Police Department is having major staffing issues.
About one-third of the officers have quit the department. The Police Chief also resigned late last year.
The department is so short-staffed, to meet state requirements they have had to eliminate the overnight shift.
Officers are now working mandatory 12-hour shifts, with often just one day off a week. And there are just four officers per shift.
"People are not knocking down the doors to get into public safety. Fire departments are struggling, EMS is struggling to get EMT's and paramedics, law enforcement is obviously struggling. There is not a lot of people coming forward now to come into public safety line of work," said Gary Graves, Millington Public Safety Director. "Our numbers are down just like they are across any department in the county or the state."
Graves said the department is planning to do marketing to get in new hires, but admitted that can take time - including to hire and train new officers.
For now, Graves said there is no choice but to have the officers work the extended shits.
"Obviously we can't close. We don't have that option," said Graves.
Graves said some of the officers left to go to different departments, and others moved or retired.
Residents said they are concerned a shortage of Millington Police officers could put officers who are on working at risk.
"In reality, it's kind of unfair because it's putting a lot of responsibility on the officers they do have," said Danielle McDaniel.
McDaniel is concerned the officers working will be stressed and tired and could make poor decisions because of the long hours they are working.
"If they work that many hours for a long time period, it could affect their sleep time, their response time anytime they are called for anything," said McDaniel.
The officers have been working the 12-hour shifts since mid-November.
Graves said three recruits have finished the police training academy and he hopes to have them on patrol soon.
Graves said the Shelby County Sheriffs Office is providing backup if needed and insists there are enough officers to keep the community safe.