The City of Hamburg is seeking more police officers.

Mayor David Streeter told the Hamburg City Council on Monday that of the police department’s current six employees, including the police chief, only two are able to work.

The squeeze on the department has been the result of COVID-19 infections, which had pushed the rotating officers down to three until Monday, when one of them tested positive for COVID, Streeter said.

Part-time and auxiliary officers are helping fill in the gaps, but the remaining two officers are working shifts of 12 hours on, 12 hours off, the mayor said.

“Our part-time and auxiliary are going to have to go in on the weekend,” Streeter said.

One of the officers who had been sidelined was Police Chief Johnny Oliver, who Streeter said was trying to help with the department from home but who was using supplemental oxygen.

“It has been every day something different coming up,” the mayor said. “(With COVID), it is a whole other ball game.”

Three potential officers have applied for jobs with the department, Streeter said. 

One of the applicants has previous police work experience in another state, but it was from so long ago that he would have to go through the police academy again, the mayor said. The other two applicants have military experience that Streeter called, “police adjacent.” 

The mayor also told the council that the police vehicles that they approved at the last meeting have been ordered since then, but like many other purchasing and supply chains in the world right now, they are delayed.

In other news:

4The mayor told the council that the city will be submitting a recreational grant application to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Recreation for approximately $350,000 as part of a bid to improve ball field lighting at Norman Park, to provide a stage at the Pine Street Park and to build a splash pad in the area behind the former Hamburg Shirt Factory.

Streeter said that though the application could have been for up-to $500,000, Hamburg officials decided to include a slightly scaled-back version of the splash pad plan in the application.

“Instead of putting stuff in just to fill in the money, we didn’t fill it up with stuff we didn’t need,” he said. ‘With (the splash pad), we went with half of what they originally said with the intention of growing it if it is used.”

4The council voted to allow the mayor to purchase a new trackhoe and a mulching head attachment for up to $80,000.

Streeter said the equipment will be used by every city department, and will help the city clean ditches, dig for the sewer, clear rights-of-way and even clean out water tributaries that provide drainage for the city.

“With (drainage), relying on somebody else to get it clean is not getting it clean,” Streeter said.

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