BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There have been 29 homicides in 30 days. Crime is spiking in Baltimore City and the number of police officers in the department continues to fall.

Derek Valcourt has more on the reason why and what’s being done about it.

Staffing has been and remains a chronic challenge for the department, which insists that public safety has never been jeopardized because of it.

Baltimore Police say between retirement, career changes and higher-paying jobs in other districts, they are losing officers at a rapid rate. Last year, 243 officers were lost and there have been 250 so far this year.

While police do add new recruits, city police say they have 200 vacancies and 97 officers who are suspended for either administrative or disciplinary reasons.

“Even though that number could appear like it’s a big number and it’s obviously a number that we want to fill, that’s not going to impact the safety of our citizens,” said Sgt. Sarah Connolly.

City police say they’re managing that problem by moving officers around and having officers work overtime shifts to the tune of millions of taxpayer dollars every year.

“It also leads to questions beyond the crime fight but also to the safety of those officers because they’re working so many hours,” said Councilman Brandon Scott.

Scott argues the department has too many officers in administrative roles that civilians could fill and that outdated discipline policies keep officers off the street for too long.

The city has hired an outside firm to come up with a comprehensive strategic plan to help improve the police department and its use of police officers.

It is unclear when that plan will be released to the city.

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