CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Department is seeing some of the lowest staffing levels in years.

"We're always one or two calls away from not having anyone available," Captain William Newberry said.

Newberry said the department is down nearly 23 sworn-in officers and eight civilian positions. He said the shortage is affecting the department's ability to serve and protect.

"Unfortunately, what we've had to do a lot of times is hold calls for service, meaning there's just certain things we just can't respond to until officers free up. Some calls, we just have to disregard entirely," he said.

Newberry said CPD received more than 35,000 calls for service this year and the department only generated 4,500 reports.

He said the reasoning behind the shortage is because the department is losing officers to other police departments due to better pay and better perks.

The average starting salary for a Charlottesville police officer is a little more than $44,000 annually. Albemarle County’s is around $44,500, and University of Virginia police start at $53,000.

"Whether they're offering a higher salary, or take-home vehicle, or whatever the offer is, we're not getting that in return. We're not able to hire from other agencies," Newberry said.

He said the department is working with the city to become more competitive with other local agencies.

"All of that information has been provided to our city leadership, so we're hopeful we can make some headway and adjustments on that," he said.

The Charlottesville City Council and other city government leaders did not respond to a request for comment regarding staffing shortage concerns or CPD's proposal.