Santa Rosa police chief raises alarm over short staffing, low morale in officer corps

in People

Santa Rosa’s police department is understaffed, suffering from low morale and struggling to deal with critical public perception of law enforcement, the city’s top officer, Chief Ray Navarro, told council members and administrators this week in a wide-ranging discussion about public safety priorities in the coming year.

Navarro said mandatory overtime needed to fill key shifts and sustain service levels has strained his ranks over the past several years, during which officers have had to respond to numerous emergencies, including the October 2017 firestorm.

Department members also are recoiling, he said, from a nationwide outcry over cases of police brutality and racial injustice. Large protests this summer in Santa Rosa saw dozens of demonstrators arrested — mostly local residents on misdemeanors offenses — and resulted in injuries to at least seven people who have filed legal claims against the city.

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