The Wenatchee Police Department is keeping pace with a mounting log of criminal investigations despite being seriously understaffed.

Seven members of the force are currently on administrative leave due to injuries and a pair of officer-involved shooting investigations.

Wenatchee Police Chief Steve Crown says, thus far, the department has been drawing from its own ranks to fill basic needs.

“We’ve had to pull some people off the (Columbia River) Drug Task Force and our detective unit to fill some of those slots on patrol.”

Crown emphasizes that the in-house shuffle hasn’t impacted the Drug Task Force but it has slowed several administrative processes, such as background checks for new hires.

The recent loss of officers is compounded by the fact that the department is already shorthanded.

“It’s even complicated more by the fact that we’re not fully staffed within our department,” says Crown. “(That) has to do with the difficulty of finding top-quality candidates, and the application pool seems to be shrinking on a statewide level.”

Crown adds that his department hasn’t had a reserve officer program for many years due to stringent state regulations and the difficulties associated with keeping part-timers properly trained.

The department does have agreements in place for its regional partner agencies to provide assistance in the event it becomes so shorthanded that it's unable to perform routine patrols.

In closing, Crown says one of the officer-involved shooting investigations is near to wrapping up and that should allow for at least a few of the officers who are currently on leave to return to active duty.

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