LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The KCBD Investigative team has learned about a major shake up at the Lubbock Police Department.
Lubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens confirmed 15 detectives will move to patrol next month.
He said the department is fully staffed, except for the the patrol division.
"Patrol has decimated. We were sitting 57 officers short and that is just budget strength. We have reached a point right now where we are only 17 officers short, but 39 of them are in training, so they are not contributing to answering calls for service," Stevens said.
Stevens said responding to emergency calls is their number one priority.
"All of the vacancies in the patrol division doesn't make sense because that is the backbone of law enforcement. Patrol is what we do, everything else is secondary to patrol," Stevens said.
He said the decision to move 15 detectives to patrol is a business decision that will increase safety and help financially because it cuts down on overtime pay.
"It's created an unsafe situation out on the streets, not just unsafe for our officers, but unsafe for the public as well because we are not able to respond as quickly as we need to for calls for service, emergencies," Stevens said.
Stevens said the detective bureau consists of 105 people, but that includes the assistant chief, captains, lieutenants and others.
In terms of investigators, Stevens said there are 84 and he wants the investigation bureau to carry one-third of the department's vacancies.
He said these detectives will be moved from narcotics, property crimes, person crimes, identification, and forensics to patrol.
"It's not a demotion; it is not a punitive thing. Patrol is what we do. Answering calls is our job," Stevens said.
Stevens said he anticipates hiring 30 to 35 people in September and at that point they will look into moving people back into detection positions.
Stevens said the department created the rank of detective/corporal in February and announced people would need to take a test for that rank.
He said 54 people signed up to take the test, which Stevens said is well above average.
Stevens said of the roughly 49 people who showed up to take the test, 37 passed.
We asked him how he chose which detectives would move to patrol. Chief Stevens said he took a list of detectives who did not take that test and then made a seniority list.
He said he picked the 15 at the bottom of that list, the ones with the least amount of experience.
We asked him if he thought these changes would impact morale.
"It will, it certainly will. I met with the ones affected by it," Stevens said.
Stevens said some detectives will move to patrol and start working nights, their days off could change, and so could their hours.
He said he knows it is a big change and that is why he is allowing a month for the transition.
"You have to step up and go to where you are needed the most. We have to provide that service to the citizens of Lubbock," Stevens said.