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Norwalk police staffing issues prevent 'proactive' approach to burglaries

Cary Ashby • Sep 28, 2013 at 2:07 PM

Norwalk Police Chief Dave Light wants to be more proactive when it comes to law enforcement -- especially when it comes to burglaries.

The department has been averaging three officers per shift.

"That's how we've been running on all three shifts, so its hard to be proactive," Light said. "We don't have the staffing to be proactive."

In 2012, police received 84 burglary complaints and made 17 arrests.

This year so far, officers have received 62 burglary complaints with 17 arrests. From April 1 through Monday, police made 11 arrests out of 36 of those burglaries, according to department records.

Light said with full staffing, there would be officers in plain clothes or in unmarked vehicles on patrol to be more proactive in preventing burglaries.

"It hamstrings us on what we can do to prevent these entries," the chief said.

With several officers out for various reasons, the city moved two part-time officers, Jason Bush and Brian Langjahr, temporarily to full-time status.

"Bush is done already. He's still part-time," Light said. "Langjahr will be done at the end of September."

Officer Dave Ditz has been on military leave all year. Light said three other officers were out from May through all of June and part of July due to surgeries.

Officer Alex Coy recently resigned. Light said Coy had been deployed with the National Guard "for most of the last nine years" and finally, the department notified Coy he had to choose to between being in the military or being a police officer full-time.

"That allows us to fill that position," Light said. "You can't fill that spot until he's gone because you're paying them while (they're deployed)."

The department has interviewed two certified officers. Light said those experienced applicants will be hired full-time.

Once Ditz returns and the city hires the two officers, the department will have 23 officers on the roster.

"In 2008, we had 25 on the roster, but Alex was gone," Light said, referring to Coy.

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