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Chief cites staffing shortage, warmer temperatures as reason to put St. Louis officers on 12-hour shifts through summer

An internal memo from Chief John Hayden obtained by the I-Team shows mandatory 12-hour shifts will happen on weekends throughout the summer.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis police officers will be moving to mandatory 12-hour shifts starting in June to deal with a “reduction in staffing” as warmer temperatures approach, according to an internal memo from Chief John Hayden obtained by the I-Team.

The St. Louis Police Department is about 127 officers short of its authorized strength of 1,224 officers. Those numbers do not include the position of Police Officer Trainees.

“As the summer months near, bringing a likely increase in call volume and a higher propensity for violent crime, adjustments are needed to ensure we have the proper amount of personnel available to handle calls and maintain visibility,” Hayden wrote. “With a reduction in staffing, we must make changes that allow us to appropriately provide the service expected of us. 

“As we all know, the weekend evening/night shifts can be some of the most challenging.”

Starting June 10 through the end of September, all officers and sergeants assigned to either evening or night watch shifts in the Bureau of Community Policing/Specialized Enforcement will work mandatory 12-hour shifts on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Officers and sergeants assigned to day watch shifts will remain on standard eight-hour shifts. 

Officers assigned to the evening watch will work 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., and those assigned to the night watch will work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The Cruising Detail will remain in effect, but the hours will change to a 12-hour shift. Specialized Enforcement officers, except for those with the Traffic Division, will no longer be directly assigned to the Cruising Detail and will instead “concentrate their activities within neighborhoods/mission zones,” Hayden wrote.

Hayden also asked commanders to start planning for the extra deployment of officers, focusing “on visibility and hazardous traffic enforcement.”

St. Louis Police Officers Association President Jay Schroeder said the department is short 227 officers because Mayor Tishaura Jones cut 100 officers from the staffing table. 

"This is something the SLPOA has been saying for the last two years, and now this is what it has come to, and it’s not improving, it’s just going to get worse," he said. "This is just a temporary fix."

Shroeder believes the answer starts with increasing pay.

"We're losing people because of pay, and we're not getting people because of pay, and these are the things we've been talking about for years, and we said this was going to happen and this is what's happening," Schroeder said.

With warmer temperatures and Cardinals games in full swing, more people are headed to the City this summer, residents feel safe with a steady police presence.

"I do find it to be necessary. I think we need to explore all options in order to bring the people back to downtown to feel safe," Jason Peterson said.

"I would hope that maybe having some more police here could help to lessen some of the issues," Josh Koeneke said.

Johnny Amizich, who was heading to the Cardinals game, says it may lead to officers feeling burnt out. 

"If you have people who are over-worked maybe over-stressed, there might be some situations that arise that maybe could've been avoided if they'd just been working what they're available to work," Amizich said.

Shroeder says there are less than 1,100 officers currently on staff.

He said that's down more than 300 officers from fiscal year 2021.

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.

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