BILLINGS – The Billings Police Department entered the month of June with 19 officers on administrative leave, but the department is still fulfilling shift requirements around the clock.
“The community can be rest assured, we have the required number of officers that are on the street. We made those adjustments, and it’s short term, it’s for several weeks, and then those officers will be working their way back onto the street,” said Billings Police Department Administrative Lt. Matt Lennick.
Lt. Lennick explained the officers on leave from the May 23 and May 30 officer involved shootings came from different shifts.
Patrol lieutenants, the patrol captain, and other commanders reviewed scheduling to determine which shifts would be short officers due to administrative leave, then they made arrangements to get those shifts filled.
“We have the amount of patrol officers required to run the city all day long,” Lt. Lennick said.
To successfully execute the revised schedule, some officers had to be removed from their specialty for the time being.
“Officers that are not normally on basic patrol or answering calls for service, are now going to be covering some of those spots,” Lt. Lennick explained.
The department also had officers volunteer to cover shifts by working on their days off or adding five hours before or after their regular shift.
“They’ll work their 10-hour shift, then they’ll work half of the next shift, or five hours before their shift starts, and then their 10,” said Lt. Lennick.
Responding to emergency calls will happen as usual, but because the department has shifts scheduled at its minimum number of required officers, the department is asking for patience with some of the calls deemed ‘low priority’.
“If somebody needs a police officer and they call, we have the resources, they are out there, they are going to respond, they will be there,” Lt. Lennick said.
The Billings Police Department feels fortunate to have officers who willingly step forward in times like this.
Acknowledging the officers are missing time with their families and missing out on some sleep, the department is keeping wellness in mind to ensure their officers are cared for.
“I think it speaks to everybody’s ability and their understanding of what our city needs, and what our department needs. I’m very proud of the officers, because in these situations, they’re the ones taking the brunt of having to be here extra and this constant need to be out on the street,” said Lt. Lennick.