The Cornwall Police Service is confronting a pressing issue with 25 of their officers currently not available for full-time roles. This surge in absences is significantly impacting the force’s service delivery and the overall wellness of the officers. Just last night, Chief Shawna Spowart stood before the city council, underscoring the depth of this challenge and articulating the dire need for additional resources.
In her address to the council, Chief Spowart was unambiguous about the existing strain on the force. Although they had achieved a full staff complement of 100 officers by late spring, the escalating number of absences, currently sitting at nearly 26%, is undermining this milestone. These absences are due to a mix of factors including long-term disabilities and training commitments, leading to an operational shortfall and increasing the risk of officer burnout.
To mitigate this, officers from specialized units are being pulled into front-line community patrol, a move that, while necessary, is causing stress and potential reductions in service quality. Cornwall Police have initiated a redeployment pilot program and are emphasizing employee wellness and ongoing recruitment to counteract the shortages. However, the recruitment is challenged by a decreasing pool of candidates and a rise in vacancies, a concern echoing across the province.
With the issue gaining urgency, Chief Spowart will be bringing forth recommendations during the 2024 budget session, aiming to rally support and solutions.