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Tallahassee Police Department Requests Ignored by City Commission, “Crisis Brewing”

Posted on June 15, 2014

Tallahassee Police Department Requests Ignored by City Commission, “Crisis Brewing”

Tallahassee Reports has been told by public safety sources that a “crisis is brewing” in the Tallahassee police department. The “crisis’ revolves around staffing issues that have been documented for years, yet have not been addressed.

The staffing issues, say sources, are being ignored by elected officials and city management, and are now being revealed in slower response times, more calls for service, and less proactive policing.

Staffing

City of Tallahassee data shows that the number of sworn officer positions has declined from 359 in 2008 to 355 officers in 2014. The number of patrol officers has declined from 216 in 2010 to 214 in 2014.

During this same period, 2008 to 2012, calls for service increased from 137,076 to 173, 484.

During the 2010 budget cycle, police officials informed upper management and the city commission that staffing was an issue.

“Over the last several years, the Police Department’s staffing level has not kept pace with population growth, workload, or staffing increases recommended by two (2) in-depth staffing studies.”

The report referenced above and completed in the early 2000’s by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), concluded that the department was approximately fifty patrol officers understaffed to meet a 50% goal of proactive time for patrol officers.

After the study, between 2003 and 2008, the City added 13 officers, but since 2008 the number of sworn positions has actually declined.

During the 2011 budget cycle, the police department reported that:

“even though the number of reported crimes decreased during 2009, the number of calls for service increased 4.9% between 2008 and 2009. Over the last five years the total number of calls for service increased over 11%. As a result of these calls for service, officers write approximately 70,000 reports annually.”

During the 2012 budget cycle, the police department informed upper management that:

“the number of reported crimes increased slightly during 2010, but the number of calls for service increased dramatically between 2009 and 2010. Over the last five years the total number of calls for service increased over 12.5%. As a result of these calls for service, officers exceeded 72,000 reports for the first time.”

During the 2013 budget cycle, the police department reported that:

 “data obtained from the FBI’s 2011 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, Tallahassee’s crime index (total of violent and property crimes reported) has increased from 10,381 in FY10 to 11,024 in FY11. This represents an overall increase of 6.2%. Along with the number of reported UCR crimes increasing during 2011, the number of calls for service increased 1.0% between 2010 and 2011. In fact, the annual calls for service have increased from 41,746 in FY07 to 156,737 in FY11.”

Police Department Requests More Officers

During the 2014 budget cycle, the police department asked for more police officers. The request stated:

“The addition of five police officers and one sergeant will aid in reducing the response times for priority one and priority two calls for service. In FY12, the Police Department’s average response times for priority one and priority two calls were 6.5 minutes and 9.3 minutes respectively. The Department’s goal for priority one and priority two calls is 5.0 minutes and 9.0 minutes respectively.”

The City Commission failed to approve the request for five police officer positions.

Staffing Comparison with other Cities

A police officer staffing comparison between Florida cities, created by an organization called Governing, seems to validate the concerns provided to elected officials and the city commission over the last ten years.

Governing’s research, shown in the chart below, indicates that the City of Tallahassee ranks 27th out of 40 cities in Florida in police officers per 10,000 residents.

Police Data_photo

Based on the analysis, the City of Tallahassee has 18.7 officers per 10,000 residents. The average for the state, based on 40 cities, is 21.8 officers per 10,000 residents.

For Tallahassee to reach the state average, the department would have to add 52 sworn police officers.

Staffing Impacts: Calls for Service, Response Times, and Community Policing

As detailed above, City documents show that from 2008 to 2012 the calls for service increased by 26% and sworn officer positions declined. The impact of these trends were described in the most recent budget document:

“In fact, the annual calls for service has increased from 141,746 in FY07 to 156,737 in FY11. The result is that response times have been increasing since 2007. Priority 1 calls require immediate dispatch (i.e. felonies in progress, life threatening calls or calls with injuries, alarms reporting crimes in progress) and have increased from 5.3 minutes in FY07 to 6.8 minutes in FY11. Priority 2 calls require dispatch within five (5) minutes from receipt of the call (i.e. assaults, all hazardous traffic situations, traffic crashes without injury that are blocking traffic, calls in progress not threatening life or property, missing persons involving individuals unable to care for themselves) and have increased from 8.9 minutes in 2007 to 10.4 minutes in 2011.”

The chart below shows that the number of calls for service per officer has increased from 381 in 2008 to 532 in 2013.

Calls per police officer_photo

Documents indicate that Tallahassee’s police department uses a community policing approach. More specifically, city documents provide that:

 “Patrol personnel are assigned to a geographical zone so that they may become more familiar with the residents who live and work in the area and with the activities that typically take place. This encourages more interaction between officers and residents and allows officers to focus on crime prevention and enforcement activities that may be unique to their zone.”

However, sources say that the lack of staffing to address increased calls for service, means efforts to engage in community policing and proactive enforcement have been reduced over the last 6-8 years.

What is an appropriate number of calls for service per officer?

In the 2010 city budget document, the city listed two benchmarks, the highest was approximately 138,000 calls for service with 359 sworn officer positions.

Based on that benchmark and latest calls for service in 2013, the Tallahassee police department would need 90 more officers to meet the ratio of officers to calls for service provided in 2010 budget document.

Since the 2010 budget document, the city has quit publishing the calls for service benchmark.

13 Responses to Tallahassee Police Department Requests Ignored by City Commission, “Crisis Brewing”

  1. Jane Reply

    June 16, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Ummm….and how is this bad? Personally, I prefer fewer cops. They rush to ticket seat belt violations while letting hardened criminals drive on by. They are a money making racket sanctioned by the government, for the government. The “good cops” who serve and protect are dwindling in numbers while the bully cops increase. Tallahassee has the FBI, Homeland Security, Sheriff’s Office, Capital Police, Highway Patrol, and FDLE. I think we are sufficently represented by law enforcement. I would rather have fewer cops and more roadside trash collectors. Buy a gun. In the heat of a criminal act, it will just be you and the perpetrator anyway.

    • Hello? Reply

      June 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      With the exception of the Sheriff’s Office (primarily responsible for responding to calls and proactively patrolling *outside* of the city limits), none of the agencies you mentioned can or do perform any police services inside of the Tallahassee city limits.

      • Jane Reply

        June 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm

        I forgot to mention Fish and Fresh Water Commission. My point is, there are certified law enforcement officers all over Tallahassee and you may not even be aware of it. The question becomes will they respond if necessary. Dang it, I forgot the Department of Agriculture.

  2. Hope Reply

    June 16, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I guess giving funds to the ONLY candidate for mayor’s campaign treasurer for a BREW PUB, paying to have the locks changed on the previous mayor’s office door, payouts for “hush money” to cover-up indiscretion(s), and contracts to Gary Yordon, are more of a priority.

    Our new police chief is sharp and communicates well enough that this issue is finally coming to light. Hopefully there will be a flock of qualified candidates to challenge some of the self serving incumbents who will take the needs of the citizens more seriously than the incumbents special interests.

  3. Ben Poitevent Reply

    June 16, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    The first duty of government is to protect its citizens, and that primary function of our society cannot be carried out without proper funding. Law enforcement is our first line of defense against lawlessness. A society without laws and law enforcement is unimaginable.When our elected officials do not sufficiently fund the TPD, we are all placed in potential danger.
    I am a former certified law enforcement officer (FDLE) and, although I have not been one for over 30 years, my heart still lies with those days of my early professional life when I knew I was making a contribution to the protection of our citizens.
    Our society calls on our police officers to protect us and we must give them the funds to carry out their duty. Anything else is shameful politics.

  4. Sensey Reply

    June 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Hey Jane. Call a crackhead if you need help since apparently you don’t need cops. And remember that if you ever get into a crash, get robbed, or have your place broken into.

    • Jane Reply

      June 16, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Well…we’ve had a crash, other driver’s fault…hit and run…… Since we were never called to testify or provide an affidavit. I’m guessing that he was never caught. We’ve had a break-in, law enforcement arrived to take a report, nothing recovered. Sorry that I provided the reality check, but you’d better be able to defend yourself, even Superman has to fly to the scene of the crime.

      • Ron Reply

        June 16, 2014 at 6:42 pm

        Well Jane, perhaps if there had been more TPD officers on the road (the ones who actually respond to calls for service – not the Department of Agriculture as you suggest) maybe there would have been that one extra officer on duty that day that could have potentially caught your hit-and-run suspect after he fled the scene… Or maybe there would have been that one more detective that could have had more time to investigate your burglary. I never post on these threads but the logic behind your argument is ignorant and holds no water, sorry to provide the reality check.

  5. Watchdog Reply

    June 16, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    What you are all missing is the subliminal plan by Sherriff Campbell to take over all law enforcement in Leon County. TPD’s recent bad publicity only gives weight to what the Sheriff has been trying to politicize for years that the city police department is poorly trained and uncontrolled. Campbell now has his good friend and drinking buddy, Scott Maddox, back on the city commission who can help undermine TPD’s demise.

    Why do you think that when the video hit of the drunk lady being physically restrained and falling on her face on the ground, that Maddox was the first politician to rush to judgement and call for the officers’ heads.

    Pay attention, Tallahassee, you are about to have one leader of law enforcement, fire, ems all run by one elected official who picks and chooses what laws to enforce and who to assist based on the size of your campaign contribution. If you think he will be gone in 2 years, think again. He is grooming his successor, Mike Wood, to take over and continue his dictatorship.

    Remember this post, for this will come to pass.

    • Hope Reply

      June 17, 2014 at 1:35 am

      Campbell called Meggs, Meggs called Maddox, and Maddox called Gabordi regarding that video to get the publicity stunt vendetta ball rolling in their latest attempt to stain TPD. They fool no one.

      The public was on to them and their blatant attempt to stain TPD backfired and exposed their political motives which undermines the public safety in the community.

      Campbell, Meggs, Maddox, and Gabordi are some of the biggest hindrances regarding the public safety in the community.

      Hopefully the new chief will clean this cesspool up once and for all as he seems to be smarter than the four of them put together.

  6. michaelparis Reply

    June 17, 2014 at 8:54 am

    The new chief is a great hire, smart and very experienced. Give him a chance to deal with this, he will make good and much needed changes to TPD. Campbell is a fossil with a huge ego and less brains. LCSO has some very good deputies, but they are 20 years behind the times because Campbell is incompetent. We need to purge Campbell, Meggs and their protégés especially Jack Campbell and Meggs’ son. The LCSO is a cauldron of politics and “good ole boy” mentality with law enforcement being second or third in priority. TPD was considered professional but they have made bad hires and promoted worse leadership. Dennis Jones was a disaster, and now a culture of the wild west prevails. There will be no merger as Campbell so wants. The LCSO deserves a better deal than a “cowboy” like Campbell. The LCSO needs an outsider as TPD did. Politics and law enforcement are a dicey mix.

    • Hope Reply

      June 17, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Well stated and right on point! Excellent!

  7. Benjamin Reply

    June 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    This town’s business model is to invite too many students to town, then ticket them with daddy’s credit card.

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