Helena Police Department experiencing significant officer shortage

Tyler Manning

The Helena Police Department is experiencing a significant shortage of officers as 2022 begins. 

Before he retired from his position as police chief last week, Steve Hagen said the department was short five officers and two officers were in field training, which means they are unavailable for duty without the presence of a training officer. Hagen was among the four additional officers planning to retire at the end of 2021, and another is expected to leave by the end of January.

“So we will be effectively short 12 officers from the end of January until the two complete their training in March,” Hagen said.

Hagen said the two in training are expected to finish in March. Additionally, two other officers have been hired and are expected to attend the police academy in January and complete their field training in July. For a department that is supposed to have 53 full-time officers, the shortage is expected to greatly impact work schedules and response times.

According to Hagen, the main issue facing HPD is a lack of qualified applicants. He said that in general, more people are moving away from law enforcement careers.

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