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For First Time in 20 Years, DPD Will be Fully Staffed

Baihly Warfield
Updated: October 14, 2019 10:42 PM

For the first time since 1999, the Duluth Police Department will be at full staff. 

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Chief Mike Tusken said it's a "tough job getting tougher," so he is relieved to have enough officers to spread the work around. 

The DPD brought on seven officers in July, and 10 others will join the department in November. It will help the budget not to have to pay overtime to meet staffing needs. But the benefits go beyond that. 

"It's tough work, it's very demanding physically and mentally, and then when you're working short, the compounding stress that that has on our officers is enormous," Tusken said. "Not that we won't be busy, but you'll be able to hopefully take a collective breath and slow the pace down a little bit, which is certainly good for our officers and our staff." 

Thanks to two grants, Tusken will also be able to add two officers. One will be dedicated to working on auto theft, and the other will partner up with the DPD's opioid technician. 

"She's certainly saving lives and doing interventions after people are at death's door who are suffering from an overdose. That officer is just another partner to be out in the community that's going to help her be fast-tracking information about where these things are happening," Tusken described. 

There won't be any staffing cuts the way the $24 million 2020 police budget is set up now. 

Next year, officers will also be required to do a one-hour mental health checkin with a counselor. Chief Tusken says he hopes it will help build resiliency among officers and set them up for long, healthy careers. 

They are also hoping to equip every officer with a smartphone, which will work in conjunction with a new Records Management System that will be implemented in May 2020. 

Credits

Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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