Get advice on staffing question from pros
October 3, 2008 · Updated 2:49 AM
I have grown tired of individuals with no police or criminal justice background making proclamations that the Snoqualmie Police Department is overstaffed. As a criminal justice professional and consultant for the past 20-plus years, I feel it necessary to depart some basic knowledge on those individuals who feel they can do a comparative, city-to-city analysis of police staffing levels and then, in turn, make important decisions that can have far-reaching implications for the citizens of Snoqualmie.
One of the most unreliable forms of statistical information to utilize is any type of "per population" comparison. Although population levels may be similar, that does not mean that police staffing levels must be similar. Other factors, such as the frequency and types of calls for service, policies and procedures, policing philosophies, tourism, etc., must be taken into account to ensure that staffing levels are appropriate.
I doubt that any type of in-depth analysis has ever been conducted by any candidate that would support the belief that Snoqualmie's department is overstaffed. In fact, I feel strongly that such a study should be conducted prior to any action being taken to either reduce current police staffing levels or contract police services. Further, it is inappropriate for any candidate to make decisions regarding policing until such a time that a thorough and in-depth study is conducted. There are many grant and technical assistance programs available to public sector agencies that would not require the city to expend a great deal of money to ensure that such a study is conducted.
In order to substantiate my argument, I have included an excerpt from a publication by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The IACP is one of the foremost policing associations in the nation and conducts staffing studies for thousands of police departments worldwide. I urge citizens to take this information into account and make informed decisions when casting their votes this election.
"... Ready-made, universally applicable patrol staffing standards do not exist. Ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions. Accordingly, they have no place in the IACP methodology. Defining staffing allocation and deployment requirements is a complex endeavor which requires consideration of an extensive series of factors and a sizable body of reliable, current data. In defining staffing requirements, we consider the following factors, the mix of which is absolutely unique to each locality and agency: Policing philosophy, Policing priorities, Police policies and practices, Number of calls for service, Population size and density, Composition of population, particularly age structure, Stability and transiency of population, Cultural conditions, Climate, especially seasonality ... ."