Amount of officers on administrative leave strains the Billings - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Amount of officers on administrative leave strains the Billings Police Department

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

Five officers are now on administrative leave following an officer involved shooting over the weekend, bringing the total to thirteen officers within the last month who have been put on administrative leave. Billings Police Chief Rich St. John said putting these officers on paid leave was necessary.

Lieutenant Neil Lawrence told KULR-8 two officers were put on leave from the Lazy K-T Motel, eight officers from the Big Bear shooting, and five from the last shooting on Saturday. Chief St. John said there are two reasons officers are put on administrative leave under the circumstances of an officer involved shooting.

"It gives them time to emotionally recover from a very, very traumatic event," St. John said. "They need to recover and heal from that. Second, it gives us time to appropriately investigate both administratively and criminally."

With the amount of officers on administrative leave, it can take a toll on the police department.

"That's a significant hit to our man power and staffing issues," St. John said. "When you're talking thirteen officers, it's ten percent of your patrol ability."

The chief said the police department has had to use every officer available.

"It's business as usual for the rest of the town so we have calls for service we need to respond to. We need to make sure we can handle those calls efficiently and effectively. In order to do that, we either staff it with what we call minimum staffing or we call in shifts early or have them stay late."

Billings Police Department has also had to call on other agencies to assist.

"That just goes to the relationship and the partnership that we have with our local, state, and federal partners," St. John said. "They'll step up to help when needed and we would return the favor if they were in the same situation."

Chief St. John said the officers that were on leave from the Lazy K-T Motel shooting have been back since last week and the eight officers from the Big Bear shooting are returning this week, which leaves five officers still on administrative leave.

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