Bonham Police Department Understaffed

10-13-05 - The Bonham police department is in need of more officers, and the only problem is that they can't hire any. It's not only causing a strain on the department but also on the city they serve.

The city of Bonham is just 13 days into an extremely tight 2006 budget. It's so tight that they're under a hiring freeze which is stretching law enforcement thin.

The police department has lost four officers in the past year, leaving them one patrol officer short for every day and night shift. And the shortage isn't just felt out on the streets.

Officers back at the station are trying to pick up the slack by doing double duty in other departments.

Dispatch calls have also been stacking up causing them to respond to
high priority calls first, and telling other callers they will get to them as
quickly as they can.

The police chief says he doesn't know how much longer the department
can keep juggling the duties.

"I don't foresee it getting any better, unless the incomes to the city or the
revenue the city takes in increases," Bonham Police Chief Mike Bankston said. "Impact is gonna remain and it's a matter for the city fathers to determine what they're gonna do to maintain the level of service we have or improve on the level of service we have."

The mayor says the city of Bonham will be working out their budget
problems over time. He also says he does not feel the lack of officers will jeopardize the protection the city has become accustomed to.

The police department also says they could eventually cut special
community programs and school programs like "DARE."