AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Austin police say a staff shortage is forcing the department to fill vacancies in patrol shifts with detectives or non-patrol officers for the next 12 months.

Officials tell the Austin American-Statesman ( ) the program will pull 500 officers and detectives off their usual assignments for three weeks during the next year to fill empty patrol shifts. Every four months, they will spend a 40-hour workweek performing patrol work.

Police leaders say the program, which started last week, is a temporary solution to persistent staff shortages. Assistant Chief Chris McIlvain says, "we are working hard to find a workable solution."

McIlvain says national recruiting efforts to fill vacancies have been affected by a negative public attitude toward police, which has put officers under more scrutiny.