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City police seeking officers

Bryan city police is currently understaffed, following a nation-wide trend, but making strides to come up to full force.

The issue came up recently when Bryan Police Capt. Jamie Mendez delivered the annual police report to city council, and then again when he met with the Bryan Board of Public Affairs.

The report, prepared by Police Chief Greg Ruskey, pointed out the department has 17 full-time officers at the time of the report, which is three less than being fully staffed in the patrol division. There was one retirement in that area in 2023. Mendez said the number will soon be five short.

Mendez said this led to fewer traffic citations being issued in the city.

"We were more reactive than proactive for 2023," Mendez said.

There were 586 total traffic enforcement citations issued in 2034, compared to 1,118 in 2022. There were 682 issued in 2021 and 504 in 2020 (the beginning of COVID lockdown restrictions).

Bryan Mayor Carrie Schlade pointed out the officers are stepping up until a solution can be found.

"We go through the staffing thing every couple of years, and, quite frankly, today we're down numbers that we don't want to be down," Schlade said. "The department is rising to the occasion and handling it and working overtime and we don't want them in a long term like that because their quality of life at home goes down."

Councilman John Betts expressed concern, after hearing a report from a TV news station in Toledo, about hiring less than ideal candidates simply to fill the roster.

"We will staff low staff versus putting someone on that is a known risk," Schlade responded.

"I know it's not me on the line, but I would just as soon this community have officers that we are proud of and we stand behind, versus, 'Well, we took the best we could,'" Betts said.

He and Schlade both stated they are proud of the officers the city has. 

Mendez told the BPA that trying to hire new officers out of the academy is becoming more difficult and is highly competitive.

"They run anywhere from 15 to 10 students in a class, and it takes six months to go through a part-time class," Mendez said. "So every agency is hiring right now."

He added by the time he can get to an academy to recruit candidates, many of them have already accepted jobs elsewhere.

"I went to Owens twice to try to recruit, and they had 20, and I went early, like the first two months of the academy, and they were already spoken for," Mendez said.

He added, however, the department is hopeful for adding at least one new one soon, as a current dispatcher is taking classes at Northwest State Community College as well as becoming an auxiliary officer to get a start on training.

It is hoped that hire will take place in June.

Mendez said there have also been three others added to the department's auxiliary, two of which are in academies. He also said there's another that is in the auxiliary that hasn't been able to get accepted into an academy yet.

Mendez also said there is a reservist program through the police department that can help, which is mostly geared toward retired officers. It pays $1,000 if the candidate works 96 hours for the year.

"The problem is, a lot of retirees are saying, 'I'm pretty done,'" Mendez said.

Also from the annual police report:

  • The department investigated 249 accident in 2023, compared to 261 the year before.

  • Council was informed a request for a new blood alcohol testing unit will likely be made at an estimated cost of $12,000. The current one is several years old and Schlade said a judge questioned its calibration. The department has been sending samples to the state for results.

  • There were 31 arrests in 2023 for operating a vehicle under the influence, down from 42 in 2022.

  • There were 123 indictments in Williams County for drugs as a result of the department's representative to the Multi Area Narcotics (MAN) Unit. That officer was the primary in 103 cases in the city. That resulted in seven first-degree felonies, 17 second-degree felonies, 32 third-degree felonies, 10 fourth-degree felonies and 55 fifth-degree felonies. There were also two first-degree misdemeanors.

  • There was a total of 7,268 calls for service in 2023, down from 8,797 in 2022.

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