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Tenn. Police Department Faces 2010 Without Academy

Chattanooga Times/Free Press via YellowBrix

December 21, 2009

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The Chattanooga Police Department didn’t hire any new officers in 2009 and, because of city budget constraints, has no plans to do so during fiscal year 2010.

“Money could come from somewhere before the end of the 2009-2010 budget year,” police Chief Freeman Cooper said. “But I have no idea where that money might be coming from.”

The police department is short about 30 officers and could be down as many as 50 by the end of the fiscal year because of retirements, resignations and terminations, Chief Cooper said.

“We’re not suffering in day-to-day operations,” he said. “Even if we had an academy going, we’d be short that many on the street anyway. We’re 30 to 40 police officers down at some point in the year every year.”

Academy graduates usually fill those holes, but the department has frozen 29 officer positions and one sergeant post, he said. The most recent academy class graduated in February.

By the end of this year, as many as eight sergeant positions could be vacant, only one of which can’t be filled. A captain position also can be filled, Chief Cooper said. The promotions come with pay raises, he said, but they leave vacancies in the lower ranks.

He said he hopes to have an academy in mid-2010.

Investigator Toby Hewitt, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the shortage concerns police officers.

Promotions ripple through the department when promoted officers aren’t replaced, he said. Fewer officers on the street mean longer response times, and fewer investigators mean backed-up caseloads, Investigator Hewitt said.

“I think it would be a little bit of a morale booster to know they’re starting an academy and better days are ahead,” he said. “It would be good to know help is coming.”

City spokesman Richard Beeland said police staffing levels will be discussed in spring budget hearings.

“If there’s a funding opportunity available to us to explore having an academy before (the next fiscal year), then on the recommendation of the chief of police, if that’s something he wants to pursue or sees it’s necessary, by all means we’ll pursue it,” Mr. Beeland said.


  • 472: Total sworn positions available
  • 30: Approximate shortfall of officers
  • 29: Size of most recent academy graduate class
  • 29: Unfunded, unfilled officer positions
  • 1: Frozen, unfunded sergeant position

Source: Chattanooga Police Department

  • 2010-10-03_17


    over 4 years ago


    I agree with Coshane220! We should be providing assistance where is needed and let the little fish flourish. Unfortunately because a Police Department is not a revenue generating agency, the thought of investing in the department is a long way off. Sad to say, but this is just a sign of the times.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    How about a little stimlus help from the feds for these departments that need assistance getting Police Officers on the streets. Quit worring about the bank bail outs and lets worry about the little guys down here on "Main Street."

  • Ba_old_glory_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Too bad officer and community safety has no place in the freakin budget. Makes me wonder where all my hard earned tax payer dollars end up. Shouldn't maintaining a secure environment within this country be a top priority. That would mean enough well equipped LEO's to do the job. Makes me wonder where all my hard earned tax payer dollars go....It's obvious where the don't go.

  • Sparkle_girl_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Darn, very sad for our state for sure!

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50


    over 4 years ago


    This stinks and I'm sure morale is at a ll time low. Low morale make for a dangerous work environment.

  • Pic-0246_max50


    over 4 years ago


    i can personally tell you how much this sucks. chicago right now has only graduated 160 officers in 3 years. back in the late 80's and early 90's chicago had as many as 600 recruits in the academy and having graduation every two weeks. right now we should be at about 13,500 officers. we are currently at about 10,000 despite other accounts of that being higher

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