LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh is facing challenging times with his police department. The chief says he's down 12 officers.
Two of them are on modified duty because of an injury, the other 10 positions he's looking to fill.
"It creates a lot of over time, a lot of burn out, and really we are managing it right now," as he talks about the shortage of officers.
"When people are in crisis they need to know the police are going to come and we are," says Chief Walsh.
The shortage of officers could cause the chief himself to go out and patrol the city.
"We want to make sure the officers are safe if that means a captain or two and myself are out there backing them up that's what's most important," he says.
During his time at the police department, Chief Walsh has made it a priority to engage with people during community events.
It's something he says could now take a back seat because of the shortage of officers.
"It makes the community know us and we know them and that's what makes a nice small town community," he says.
Chief Walsh says that in the next few months more officers could be leaving and if they went down to 16 to 18 vacancies it could be unsafe.
"We really need the communities help, we need their eyes and ears," he says.
City leaders, including Chief Walsh, are currently discussing the city's budget. They are looking to possibly make cuts to the police and fire department.
"It won't mean cuts, people won't get laid off, because that is how short we are," he says.
Chief Walsh says there are three people currently going through the police academy in order to become officers. They also have one more dispatcher position to fill.
For more information about jobs with the police department you can visit: http://www.cityoflompoc.com/police.