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Gettysburg Police Chief says department is undersized

Editor’s note: The is the second of a four-part series about the Gettysburg Police Department.  I thank Chief Robert Glenny and Mayor Rita Frealing for generously spending time talking with me. We value your comments — please leave them below.

“We’re way understaffed. By Federal guidelines we should have at least 20 policemen. I have 12 including me,” said Chief Robert Glenny in an interview in July.

“We are by far the busiest police force in Adams County as dispatched by EMS.” Some days we have 6 more incidents to deal with than other forces. We’re bare-boned minimum now,” he said.

Glenny said the current staff included himself as Chief as well as 11 full-time officers.

The two staff sergeants each oversee a squad and are responsible for 12 hours of service.  “They supervise the shifts. They work flex schedules,” said Glenny. 

The 7 Line Personnel officers work 11 ½ hour days, 7 days every 2 weeks.  The squads are organized into a day shift and a night shift, with 2 officers scheduled at all times.

The force also includes 2 detectives who investigate crimes.

Glenny said that, due to an injury, one officer was not currently able to take a shift, leaving the day shift short one officer. “We can’t take an injured person and expect them to go out and protect the public. They can’t be in any public-facing position due to the potential for re-injury,” he said.

Officers on injury leave are given light in-house duties, including phone, administration, and intelligence work.

“Sometimes during the day we go down to one patrol officer, although we try not to,” said Glenny.  “A sergeant may cover; I may cover; a part-time person may cover.

“There are multiple ways to determine police staffing size,” said Glenny, “but the population approach doesn’t work well here because we have 2.2 million visitors every year. We’re a historic landmark. Things that happen here can garner state, national, and even internal attention. We’re a bit of a hotspot.”

“We also have a college and we are a county seat.  Every main road in the county intersects in Gettysburg. We have a lot of commuter and truck traffic.”

“16 officers is a good number, but we’re never going to get that,” said Glenny.  “I have asked for 2 additional on top of the 12 we now have.”

Glenny said a bigger staff would allow the department to do more. “Our officers do 45 minutes of foot patrol at night. I would love to have more people walking. We have a fledgling bicycle patrol with only one person.”

Glenny said common calls included suspicious activity, noise, domestic violence, traffic violations and crashes, and alarms.

“Were not only doing arrests; we’re trying to help in other ways. We’re not just going out and riding around. We’re providing important services to the community.”

“Sometimes a call is a 10-minute job and sometimes it’s a 10-hour job. Some of the things we respond to can be problematic. If I have one officer on a DUI and other on a minor scuffle I’ve gone to no officer on call.”

“I try to do this as economically as I can.  Things become easier when you have more policemen.”

Glenny said another issue occurred when officers went for training. “Training makes professionals more professional. We need to get people out to training so they are as close to perfect as they possibly can.”

“Unfortunately, it all boils down to dollars and cents. I spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how to keep butts in police car seats,” said Glenny.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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  • Having an efficient and well staffed police force is important for any community. But I wonder how many calls are the police needing to respond to which are out of their purview? Cities across the country are beginning to have have issues regarding homeless people, mental health emergencies, and even minor traffic violations handled by other agencies other than the police department.

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