Fulton Police Department faces staffing issues

Lt. Bill Ladwig took over as Fulton Police Chief about six months ago. During that time, he said, the most challenging part of the job has been hiring officers. (Fulton Sun file photo)

The Fulton Police Department is working on improvements.

Lt. Bill Ladwig, Fulton Police Chief, spoke during a Rotary meeting last week on how the first six months as chief have gone. He has been at the police department for over 22 years.

The most difficult part of his job as chief so far has been trying to hire officers who represent and understand the community and using force only as the last resort.

"I want our Fulton Police Department to be very representative of this community and finding people to do that right is incredibly difficult," Ladwig said.

There are currently four openings at the police department and zero viable applications, he said. The people he hires have to be trusted by citizens and represent the department how he wants to be presented.

Trust is gained through the training process.

Ladwig said the police department will work on trying to sponsor people to go through the academy to get good quality people that he would trust in serving and protecting the community.

The Fulton City Council recently voted to restart the department's K-9 program, which is up and running.

The dog for the police department will be a dual purpose dog. He will be able to sniff out narcotics, and also track and sniff a subject that has taken off to the dark woods, for example.

The Fulton Police Department currently has officer Bo as its new police dog. He is a German Shepard and is from Slovakia. He will work with Officer Will McCaulley. The two are currently in training through the Boone County Sheriff's Office.

Drug overdosing in the community has been a concern.

"That's the real pandemic," he said, about the drug overdose.

The police department is also bringing a crime-free housing program. The class is open to rental property owners, managers and maintenance people to try to teach them how to keep crime out of their rental units.

"It's an ongoing conversation in our department about active shooters," he said.

Ladwig said the department would respond to any active shooters immediately.

photo Fulton Police Department patrol car. (Fulton Sun file photo)