SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Concerns about staffing within the Savannah Police Department (SPD) have been growing over the past few months. Now one employee is coming forward to News 3 within the department with his concerns.

“I believe the falsifying of the amount of officers working is to not cause a panic in the city and to gaslight the citizens and everything else like that when officers are responding to calls,” says the anonymous employee, “because the response times are getting larger with the less amount of officers on the street.”

Assistant Police Chief DeVonn Adams told News 3 on July 24 that the precincts were fully staffed.

“All of our precincts are fully staffed; unfortunately, we can’t be everywhere,” said Adams.

The anonymous employee tells News 3 he believes that is not the case, and that he feels he and other SPD employees and the public are being misled about the staffing situation from their chiefs.

“They group the total number of people working per day into the actual numbers on the street, which is skewed,” says the employee.

The actual numbers on the street, he says, are the patrol officers who respond to 911 calls, citing the records obtained by News 3 that seemed to prove all precincts were not fully staffed during the high-crime weekend of July 22.

“That specific time when the roster was pulled with six officers and a sergeant on the Eastside precinct — that was the bare minimum staffing that they could actually have- as far as having 11 officers — again grouping the other specialized units into that number is what the department likes to do,” he says.

The employee also tells News 3 that he believes the alleged staffing shortage is intentionally being kept quiet.

“There was allegedly a command staff meeting with lieutenants, captains, majors, chiefs and above, pertaining to telling sergeants or supervisors the watchers of the precincts to not send out department-wide emails requesting for assistance with staffing due to shortages, whether it be military leave, FMLA, light duty injury, just because city officials and city leaders are also included in those emails.”

He also says he has seen executive staff pull officers from their supervisors in their assigned precincts to cover shifts.

“Command staff will chase their tail around to try to pull an officer from one precinct to work at another precinct because of the staffing levels,” he adds.

SPD told News 3 in a statement:

SPD is authorized to have 536 officers, and we currently have 420. SPD continues to stress hiring expos and advertising for open positions.