WPD Deputy Chief says officer shortage isn't affecting public safety

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Wichita Police say a shortage of officers isn't as bad as one of its captains claims. In a story we first told you about Thursday, a police captain outlined in an email what appears to be a dire situation at his east bureau. 

In the email, obtained by KAKE News, patrol east Captain Kevin Mears, stated his bureau is so short staffed, at times, people are waiting up to two hours for an officer to show up to a call. and some cops are pulling double duty.

After our story aired Thursday, Wichita Deputy Chief Troy Livingston, called a news conference to address the email. 

"The email said that the department may have been neglected and I adamantly disagree with that, all right?" Livingston said.

Livingston admits, wait times can be long, but it's rare. 

"That two hour response time is not the norm," Livingston said. "We go to emergencies first. We don't like it if it takes us two hours to get to a report call."

The police department is reorganizing. 20 officers will be pulled from the substations to create a specialized traffic unit starting this weekend, and 22 officers will be reassigned to a violent crime unit -- meaning there will be even fewer cops on patrol. 

"The captains have been directed to manage this," Livingston said. "And we've been doing this for years, they've been directed that if they see they're going to be shorthanded they contact the other bureaus and get some resources shifted to that bureau."

Mear's email said patrol east is short 28 officers, but Livingston claims that's not the case. 

 "I don't think that email accurately reflected what's truly going on in the department," he said.

Mears called the depletion of his staff "terrible" and says the shortfalls will likely last ten more months.

30 recruits are about to go through the police academy in January, but they won't go to the streets until September.

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