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Nelson police staffing shortage continues after officers resign

Nelson police are looking to fill positions in the department after they lost five officers in the last 15 months, including three in the last few weeks. 

According to an email from chief Donovan Fisher, the departing officers have left for a variety of reasons, but they are looking to fill them as early as this spring. 

“Officers have left due to medical conditions and additional benefits being offered by another department,” he says. “Some have also left because of career change/fresh start, and/or impending discipline considerations.

“We have recently hired two recruit officers who are attending the Justice Institute and three experienced officers. One has already started and the other two will start this spring.”

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He says although the department has seen a high turnover rate he is anticipating the new hires will bring them back to full force. 

“Once the current batch of vacancies are filled, there should be a strong stability in the department for the foreseeable future,” he says.

Fisher said in a city council meeting last year filling shortages in the department is pivotal to the current officers’ mental health and wellbeing.

“Unfortunately, we have seen an increase in conduct matters,” he says. “This is attributed to morale issues, mental health issues and decreased performance.”

The staffing shortage was announced during the provisional budget review in November. 

Fisher says of the three officers who recently resigned, two left last week and one the week before. 

He says Nelson Police typically has 20 positions to fill, which was bumped to 21 late this winter, but with some of them typically vacant this has little impact on the police budget. 

The department’s staffing suffered a further blow with the deaths of two officers in an avalanche in January.

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