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East Texas law enforcement agencies dealing with border deployments, need for more officers

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Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 2:15 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 11:51 PM CST
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GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - With retirements and fewer people going into law enforcement, East Texas agencies are challenged to put enough uniforms on patrol, and now they face another obstacle, losing officers to border patrol duty.

For almost all law enforcement, getting new officers is a problem.

“You have agencies just begging for officers, and you’re just not getting many applications,” says Lieutenant Brannon Robertson of the White Oak police department.

Retirements and officers leaving for other jobs has created a void.

“We’ll get an officer in, get them trained up, and once they get a year or two years in, they want to go to a bigger department,” says Gladewater Police Chief Gordon Freeman.

On top of that, Longview police, the Gregg county sheriff’s office and Hawkins police all have at least one officer deployed who is either in the National Guard or reserves, some on border patrol duty.

“I have a full time officer who started about 6 months ago. He’s deployed for 3 months to the border. I said are you serious? We’re already shorthanded everywhere, we can’t find police officers,” says Hawkins police chief Manfred Gilow.

The loss of 1 or 2 officers doesn’t sound like much, but it can create a manpower issue, particularly for smaller departments.

“Patrols got to go on. It’s got to happen every day, 24 hours a day. You got to fill it in with overtime, or a reserve officer,” Freeman says.

And in some cases a lengthy timeline before deployed officers will return.

“I get the message that they are deployed until August 2022,” Gilow says.

Officers working double shifts, is expensive.

“We’re having to make new shifts, swing shifts, cover shifts,” says Robertson.

“That puts a big strain on all of us, we have a certain budget, small department. The first half of the year I blow my overtime budget. We need our police officers protecting and serve the cities they’re working in,” chief Gilow says.

The chiefs we spoke with today say recruiting more people for police academies is essential to solving the officer shortage problem.

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