FOP: Public safety at-risk as Metro officer shortage worsens - WSMV News 4

FOP: Public safety at-risk as Metro officer shortage worsens

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

Metro Police say Nashville has a major problem on its hands -- there aren't enough officers to go around. They say the problem is putting public safety at risk and it's only getting worse.

The Fraternal Order of Police President call this a nationwide epidemic. Police departments like ours in Nashville need more officers. 

The trouble is finding them. 

You've heard the statistic before, around 100 people move to Nashville each day. 

"I'm originally from New Jersey," new Nashville resident Evan Golombek said. "I went to school down here and moved here after college."

"I moved here with my wife about two months ago from Savannah, Georgia," said J.P. Moncada, another new Nashvillian. 

But as Nashville's population skyrockets, the number of officers in charge of keeping those people safe is going down. 

"We need 200-300-400 more people to help us reduce the workload," FOP President James Smallwood said. 

From 2013 to 2016, Nashville's population grew by more than 41,000 people. During that time, the city added 126 police positions. 

Not to mention, many of those officers work in offices and are not out patrolling the streets. 

Now they're having trouble filling those positions, and in the meantime, officers we already have are leaving. 

The city lost 105 officers just last year. 

"When there [are] other jobs out there that pay better, that treat you better, that have a higher level of morale amongst employees, why would you choose to come here?" Smallwood said. "It's had to argue the other side."

According to Smallwood, these days, officers are underpaid and over scrutinized. They're also being shot at more than ever before. 

He said the local officer shortage is only getting worse and that the people they serve have cause for concern. 

"If we don't treat our police officers right, we'll start to see public safety suffer," Smallwood said. "A mother sitting at home should be worried about their child -- what they could either be a victim of or get involved in if public safety declines."

MNPD officials told News4 they have 29 new officers graduating from the academy on Tuesday night, and another class set to graduate in June. 

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