Berlin Police Dept. tackling staffing shortage challenges while continuing to take care of community

BERLIN, Md. -Right now, police departments are having a hard time finding people who want to do police work, but even with this challenge, Delmarva police departments are staying optimistic.

“The Berlin Police Department is short-staffed, but we are at a point where we’ll be able to take care of our community that’s not an issue,” Chief Arnold Downing, with the Berlin Police Department, said.

The Berlin Police Department said right now they have a couple of staff out for medical reasons and then they have two open positions.

“Right now, we are approximately 20% down, 20 plus percent with a 14 man full force complement,” Chief Arnold said.

Chief Downing said having fewer officers can present challenges.

“So, it actually strains the workforce, so again more officers coming in on overtime,” Chief Arnold said.

But, that’s not all. We’re told the police department likes to be proactive and this can become difficult to do if you only have a couple of people working during a busy time; which during the week, there’s many people in the area with schools located there and the hospital.

“It can influx upward to 10,000 people being in town at a given time that aren’t residents,” Chief Arnold said. “So, again, you add that with traffic, small things that are actually service calls, and then transient people which relate to crime.”

But the department isn’t taking the situation sitting down, and is being proactive when it comes to recruitment. They are having testing events, like an upcoming Saturday event. Chief Downing said he would love more applications to come in.

“We are currently in the testing process for a couple of the recruits, we were looking to help fill out our full time staffing for the police department,” Berlin Mayor Zack Tyndall said.

Chief Downing said they are also working with grants that can go ahead and give bonuses to their officers who come here. They’re also looking at retaining the experienced men and women they have.

“We’re looking at referral bonuses for our officers so they will a little bit harder for the next recruit that we have,” Chief Arnold said.

The Town of Berlin is also lending a helping hand as it plans to fund Law Enforcement Officers Pension System Study, which Mayor Tyndall feels could be a plus.

“We conducted a study in the past, we were not able to financially fund that cost because it does come at an additional expense to the town,” Mayor Tyndall said. “This fiscal year we have the study to bring that current in our budget for FY23 and we’re hoping, I hope the council will fund that.”

“I think that as a municipality, as the Town of Berlin, we want to provide that benefit to our law enforcement officers to make that competitive with other agencies in our immediate jurisdiction, as well as across the state,” Mayor Tyndall said.

Categories: Local News, Maryland