BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham police officers want to hear from Chief Scott Thurmond after being asked to work new 12-hour shifts as staff shortages continue to plague the department.

Birmingham’s Fraternal Order of Police is bringing those concerns to CBS 42 after it said it has tried multiple times to get a meeting with the chief to discuss the new shift schedules and other concerns.

Lawrence Billups from the FOP and an officer with the North Precinct. He said the 12-hour workday is being gradually rolled out. It started in the North Precinct and Airport Precinct, but Billups said it will be department-wide in November.

“It’s our job to help him, but if you don’t listen to us there’s no help we can give you,” Billups said.

According to Billups, they are supposed to meet twice a year for a quality circle meeting. At the last minute, he said that the chief planned one on Monday and did not show up.

“It’s wearing as you get older, your patience gets shorter, so you have to learn how to push on without passing how you’re feeling on to the citizens,” Billups said. “Most large departments that have gone to 12s have actually gone away from them because of the call volume and the types of calls we have to deal with.”

Right now, Billups said the department has about 350 officers on the street and only about 500 department wide. He says that is half of the staff when Chief Patrick Smith started. He said new officers go to other departments that pay more. He also said new officers only earn eight hours of vacation each month – which would not cover that 12-hour shift if they must take time off.

The Birmingham Police Department sent us this statement:

“The Birmingham Police Department’s leadership is open to meeting with the members of the department and the Fraternal Order of Police at any time. The Birmingham Police Department began the process of reinstituting it’s Quality Circle meetings on Monday of this week in an effort to hear the concerns of the department’s members. The Quality Circle meetings were paused for some time due to COVID-19 and now being reinstated to hear and address the concerns of our employees.”