The Jefferson City Police Department is down about 16 police officers, causing a shortage Captain Doug Shoemaker called "probably the worst it has been" in his time at the department.
"We're very short. We're actually, I would guess, almost critically short," Captain Shoemaker said.
Some of the vacancies were created by officers taking medical or military leave. Others, results of last year's city budget woes.
Officers are adjusting their schedules and duties to ensure there are the required number of officers patroling the streets.
In addition to working overtime, the officers have had to adjust the way they prioritize reports.
"We're really having to rely on our sergeants to make sure that we have adequate response to those calls that are high priority or high danger...domestic violence cases, any type of assault or anything of that nature that requires backup. Those take priority over other calls such as peace disturbance complaints and things like that," Captain Shoemaker said.
He added they have five prospective new officers, but even if they are hired, it could be summer before they start because of training.
Captain Shoemaker emphasized the department's commitment to keeping both the public and the police officers safe, and said the quality of their work will not be impacted by the shortage.
"Our level of service in terms of the quality of service won't decrease. We have an excellent group of officers that are filling in. They're coming in on their off days...some of them haven't had days off in a while, but they're doing a good job," he said.