VALLEJO (KCBS) – With 27 homicides this year and an understaffed police department struggling to keep up with investigations, Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said more police officers are on the way.

Davis said there is enough money in the city budget to hire at least 17 new officers, something the department could really use.

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“They are way understaffed. They are lower than they’ve been in 20 years,” Davis said. “Certainly, it’s an unhealthy situation and it’s amazing that they continue to do an outstanding job with what they have.”

With only about 80 cops on the force right now, Davis said he hopes to get staffing levels up to 120 police officers within the next 2 1/2 years. Mayor Davis said the need to hire more police officers is especially important with the increase in young people committing violent crimes in the city.

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“They are getting to be out of control, with no value for life, no value for property, no value for their own life,” he said. “The violence is escalating at such a rapid pace, it’s unbelievable. It’s at the point where even the good kids believe they have to have a weapon in order to protect themselves, which is absolutely crazy.”

Davis said he also hopes to enlist the help of rapper E-40, who was raised in Vallejo, as someone who might be able to reach out to some of the kids in the city and offer a positive message.

The call for more police officers comes as earlier this month, the Vallejo City Council voted to impose salary and benefit cuts on the police force, effective January 1. The short-term conditions are expected to save the city more than $2.5 million.

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