Updated at 7:45 p.m. — A short-staffed Alexandria Police Department is reducing its services to the community, the department announced on Wednesday (June 2).
Police will no longer respond to calls for service that fall under another agency’s responsibility or respond to old crime scenes that show no danger to the public.
“The Alexandria Police Department like most law enforcement agencies across the nation has experienced a significant reduction in their workforce due to resignations and retirements,” APD said in a release. “While APD remains dedicated to providing excellent public safety services, this reduction in officers has affected the way APD will deliver services to the community.”
Police said that the changes will “prioritize the workload to better serve the Alexandria Community.”
The department is budgeted for 311 sworn officer positions, but currently has 291 sworn officers on payroll, which includes 13 that are still in the academy that have yet to fully graduate their police training, according to APD.
Police Chief Don Hayes said that officers will continue to actively police neighborhoods.
“Just like everybody else, the pool is smaller, and everybody’s in the same pool,” Hayes told ALXnow in a recent interview. “When you have Arlington County whose down 60 (officers), Fairfax is down 100, Prince William is down 40, and we’re down about 23 and you’re looking for qualified candidates, but everybody is not qualified to do this job. They just don’t meet the qualifications. And you can’t lower your standards because you’ll have more problems bringing them in than you will without them.”
Mayor Justin Wilson says that he prefers to have APD officers working at the highest level of service, and that the City is working to increase staffing.
“My preference is always going to be that we provide the highest level of service to our residents, all of the time,” Wilson said. “As we work to return to our authorized staffing levels in the Police Department, I understand the Chief’s decision to prioritize response to calls where the physical presence of our officers is most critical. The dedicated men and women of APD have done excellent work, with lower staffing levels, in recent years to keep our community safe. These changes will focus their efforts on the incidents where they can make a real difference in the safety of our City.”
“We as a community need to lift up our police department,” Jackson told ALXnow. “And I think when our city does that, the region will also do that and we will be able to attract and retain talent with the skill set needed to work here in Alexandria. And right now, we aren’t attracting or retaining the talent that we want here for our department. It’s a sad state of affairs. I believe we have the leadership that will get us to that expectation.”
Police officers got a 6% raise in City Manager Jim Parajon’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget, which goes into effect next month.
The Department will also providing more support for online and phone reporting, and is working on an outreach campaign on the changes.
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