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Cape Breton police officer shortage leaves most shifts shorthanded: union

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There are not enough police officers patrolling streets and responding to calls in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, according to the union representing officers.

The president of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union says with many officers on medical leave, most shifts are 30 to 40 per cent understaffed.

“It's expected you will do your share of overtime shifts in order to fill those shifts,” said Sandra Mullen.

Communicating with the municipality about the issue hasn’t been easy, she said.

“We tried to raise the alarm bells earlier to CBRM but they deflected us to the CEO and HR, which we struggled to get meetings with. We have had one.”

The board of police commissioners met Monday at city hall to discuss the shortage.

Cape Breton Regional Police Service Chief Robert Walsh says the force would “never compromise public or officer safety,” but acknowledges the issue.

"We’re in a very challenging situation, not unlike many other police services, we're experiencing some difficulty in recruiting,” said Walsh.

Members have been distributed among platoons with immediate shortages, said Walsh.

He says 60 people attended a recent recruiting session and some plan on going to the police academy.

The number of officers on leave is down to 17, he said, and there are efforts underway to fill positions heading into the summer vacation season.

For more Nova Scotia news, visit our dedicated provincial page.

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