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FORTVILLE, Ind. — The Fortville Police Department said it needs to nearly double its patrol staff to handle the demand in the town.

Right now, there are eight full-time patrol officers working for the department. Chief Bill Knauer said his department does not have the double coverage they need.

He explained that most of the time, there is only one officer patrolling during a shift.

According to the Bartell Formula of Manpower Allocation, the chief claims his department needs a total of 15 patrol officers on the road.

He shared his findings with the town council last week during his annual report.

“I think the citizens deserve it,” Knauer said.  “They deserve the protection and we want to be able to respond to calls as they come in and not have to pend(ing) calls for 30 minutes or an hour for someone to wait for a police response.”

He believes current staff size is slowing response times. Other agencies in the county do help the Fortville Police Department on calls.

“We count on the sheriff’s department occasionally and we count on McCordsville to help us and we help them also because everybody is facing the same needs,” he said.

To hire a new officer, the chief explained it would cost  just over $100,000 the first year and costs would drop about 40 percent after that.

“We are theoretically short seven full time officers. I don’t know how you could pay for that it is just not possible right now but you know just to get a little bit of help would be good,” he said.

Chief Knauer said he would be happy with just one more hire. He said he has the support of the town council but there is a concern about the cost.

The work load is making it tough on some officers. The department handled about 7,800 calls for service in 2019. Chief Knauer said that number is up from 2018.

Officer Anthony Chavez works a 12 hour shift by himself most days. He said more officers would lighten the case load and make his job safer.

“It is a tough thing because I could be on a call for 20 to 30 minutes for a basic information report that takes someone away from the town,” he said. “I am on calls by myself a good majority of the time when I wait for my additional backup to come from McCordsville or the Hancock county sheriffs department.”

His small town is growing. New homes are popping up waiting for families to move in. Officers think more people on the road will make this community safer.

We reached out to the town council to learn if Fortville can hire more officers. As of Tuesday afternoon, we were still waiting to hear back.