Blakely Police Department battles through pandemic challenges

The City of Blakely is starting a new police force. (Source: WALB)
The City of Blakely is starting a new police force. (Source: WALB)
Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 6:12 PM CST
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BLAKELY, Ga. (WTVY) - First responders bore the brunt of the pandemic. As essential workers, they took on long shifts and hours of overtime to keep their communities safe. For the Blakely Police Department in Georgia, it hasn’t been easy.

The department says the changes forced them to get creative. They changed shift times, cut down on off days, and put off buying much needed tools.

“There was at one point, earlier this year actually, I was actually down to 50%,” says Chief Will Caudill, Blakely Police Department.

Staffing struggles made a tough environment worse. For Chief Caudill, it was a reality check

“Instead of just having a certain number of officers on day shift, and certain number on night shift, you may have to use a swing shift, as we call it, when you bring in an officer to overlap a little on day and night,” says Chief Caudill.

Often times, Chief Caudill and his detectives gave up family time to return to work to give patrol officers a break.

“If you have a serious increase in violent crimes or serious incidents, you need to have that investigative component. when your whole department is working on patrol, it’s hard to do an effective follow up,” says Chief Caudill

The department is also battling a supply shortage for police cars.

“We’ve kind of made do with some older ones that we need to retire, and that’s why we’re looking forward to getting some new ones,” says Chief Caudill.  “We’ve got a lot of equipment we’ve got to order and put in the new vehicle. it may not be a model we already have. sometimes, that equipment is vehicle specific.”

After nearly two years of supporting their community, the department is calling on the people they serve to help.

“We want the public to come forward and help us,” says Chief Caudill. “There’s a lot more eyes and ears out there in the public than police officers. we can’t be everywhere at all times, but as residents of a particular neighborhood, they are.”

Three years ago, the sheriff’s office and police department were the same. Now, BPD stands on it’s own, and it’s been a learning curve to navigate that change during the pandemic.

The department asks everyone to be patient with them as they work to hire back up to full staff.

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