ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Alexandria Police Department is changing the way they respond to crime.
The modifications to their operations and handling of service calls are happening as a result of not having enough officers.
The modifications, which can be found here, include: Not responding to certain calls that may fall under another agency’s role unless support is requested, and not responding to scenes that occurred earlier and there’s no danger to the community, no suspects that need to be identified, or valuable investigation leads.
Some people who live in Alexandria understand due to the staffing shortages, whereas others are concerned about their safety and well-being.
"Honestly, with them having a lack of police there, I feel like it could put other lives in danger including mine because what if one day I have an emergency and no one is there to help me? I kind of feel like it’s outlandish, but it kind of does suck," said Alexandria resident Zaria Eubanks.
"In the summertime, they break into cars, break windows, and they don’t respond to it. If you have a report they don’t do it on-site, so I think this should be taken more seriously because it takes these little incidences when young men get away with it, they start doing other things, and it just builds into bigger crime," said Alexandria Resident Hector Ortiz.
"Just talking to the people who live near the high school, it’s more serious so that would be a lot more concerning or if I was a woman walking around late at night, but I’m not either of those things, so personally I’m not that concerned," said another Alexandria resident named Ryan.
Police departments all across the D.C. region are having a tough time recruiting and retaining officers.
For example in Maryland, Montgomery County is down 75 police officers. In Virginia, Prince William County has 70 open positions and Arlington police has 52 vacancies.
Back in March, the department had to make service changes and reallocate resources.
At this time, the Alexandria Police Department has 293 officers but would need 18 more to be fully staffed at 311 total.
"Oh wow, honestly I had no idea that was actually happening at all, said Savannah Patton, who lives in Alexandria. "That pretty much sucks that there’s not enough police officers around, and they’re not going to respond to certain things when there could be a big accident happening,"
Police Chief Don Hayes said over the past two weeks, five officers left. He adds retaining and recruiting qualified men and women is tough these days because they’re not staying in the career field for as long.
"A lot of them are not leaving to go to other agencies. A lot of them are leaving because they want to try something different," Hayes said. "I think we have to realize that our profession has changed."
As part of the service changes, the Alexandria Police Department is encouraging people to report crime online if it is a non-emergency situation.