A consulting group contracted in late 2017 to evaluate staffing levels, workload and efficiency within the College Station Police Department determined that 16 patrol officers should be added so more time can be spent on “proactive” activities such as community policing, non-criminal traffic stops and area checks.
CSPD’s 63 current patrol officers spend more than the recommended time per hour on “reactive” duties like answering calls for service and making directed patrols, according to the report from Etico Solutions, Inc. The report recommends bringing the total number of patrol officers to 79 to bring the reactive and proactive time per hour to an even split, and adding four more officers if patrol sergeants were to be relieved from assisting on calls for service in order to properly supervise. Four additional position are also recommended for the criminal investigations division in the form of two police assistants and two sworn investigators.
These findings and more were presented to the College Station City Council during its workshop meeting on Thursday. For several years, city leaders have echoed the need for more police staffing as the city grows.
Tim Freesmeyer, principal researcher for Etico Solutions, told council members that the study’s recommendations were based on patrol schedules, district maps, computer-aided dispatch data and other records. The city contracted with Etico Solutions in December 2017, and the 12-month examination began last January. Workload data was taken from five years of calls-for-service by officers and average time spent on calls, while officer availability was based on a three-year sample of leave, training and overtime data.
The report concluded “it is evident that the agency is operating with far less than the optimal number of patrol officers.” Recommendations were also given for schedule changes to improve efficiencies, redesigned patrol beat configurations and ways to improve data collection.
In addition to a consistent need for more officers to keep up with population growth, CSPD has previously struggled with retention. Turnover in the department was as high as 18 percent in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Officers either left for different agencies, didn’t make it through training or were lost to retirement.
Police Chief Scott McCollum said Thursday that retention has improved through the modification of the step plan pay structure — about $490,000 was added for a realignment in the fiscal year 2019 budget — and the department has also “done some things internally to re-engage our employees, make sure that they’re valued and we appreciate the work that they do day in and day out.” The department has also modified its recruiting efforts by seeking certified officers from other agencies, he said.
The department and the City Council likely will use the report’s recommendations throughout the upcoming budget process for next fiscal year.
“I, for one, am looking forward to how we use this data in the future, and to guide us as we make our plans to serve our citizens and continue to provide the safe living standards they’ve been accustomed to,” said Mayor Karl Mooney.