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Louisville Metro Police on Friday afternoon released the findings of a year-long study to determine if the department had enough officers.

The 50 page study, by Alexander Weiss Consulting, found the department is “adequately staffed.”

See the entire report here.

However, the near $68,000 study deemed “there are areas in which their performance can be enhanced.”

Researchers outlined six recommendations they believe will lead to improvements within Louisville’s police department.

Here they are.

LMPD should adopt a workload-based method for deploying patrol personnel

A workload-based approach to assigning patrol personnel requires police officials to “systematically analyze and determine staffing needs based upon actual workload demand,” the report states.

With this approach, future staffing needs can be determined based on current activity, according to the report.

However, the report states there are negative ramifications of a workload-based approach.

For example, officers “may not have an incentive to be efficient in their response to calls or even to engage in activities that reduce call” if they know staff decisions are based upon calls for service and the time required to respond to them, according to the report.

Also, unplanned events, severe emergencies or concurrent calls can lead to a shortage of officers in a workload-based staffing approach, the study said.

During the study period, from Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014, Louisville Metro Police responded to nearly 577,500 calls for service. That breaks down to roughly 66 calls for service every hour.

Here is a chart showing the number of calls for service in each division.

lmpd staffing 1Alexander Weiss Consulting

 

lmpd staffing 2Alexander Weiss Consulting

 

And, “unfortunately,” there is no accepted standard method for conducting a workload-based method, the study said

LMPD should abandon its use of both the 10-hour work schedule and the hybrid work schedule.

The study found that the department’s 10-hour schedule and hybrid work schedule “do not meet organizational needs.”

Researchers said the department’s scheduling method is unnecessarily complex and isn’t aligned with the workload.

The study said an eight-hour shift, compared to a 10-hour shift, would allow about 20 percent more officers to be considered on duty without actually adding officers to a shift. This, the report said, is due to shift overlap.

Louisville’s “hybrid” shift schedule is meant to create more officers on duty at specified times—like Friday and Saturday evenings, the report said.

But researchers concluded that the extra staff can seem reasonable, it also too random on other days of the week.

“In our view, the hybrid schedule, while it may be popular, does not seem to work well for deployment,” the report states.

And researchers admit adopting a new work schedule “will be a complex undertaking.”

They suggest requiring officers to work six eight-hour days with two off-days or move to 12-hour shifts.

The report found staffing seven officers on 12-hour shifts “is equivalent to staffing 10 eight-hour officers.”

Twelve-hour shifts have been adopted by hundreds of police departments across the country, but they are not without disadvantages, the report states. On a 12-hour shift program, it’s difficult to find time for training, officers work longer weeks and are, generally, more fatigued.

LMPD should minimize the use of on-duty personnel for special details such as runs, walks and other similar events.

The study reports LMPD officers exhibited “near unanimous concern” regarding the amount of on-duty police utilized during special events like Thunder Over Louisville and the Kentucky Derby.

The main concern with assigning on-duty police to cover special events in the city boils down to one thing: cost.

Here’s a chart showing how many hours police worked during special events in Louisville.

lmpd staffing 4

The 72,704 total police hours dedicated to patrolling these special events came with more than 32,000 hours of overtime, the study said.

The report presents two arguments. One, the cost is modest, totaling just four percent of the entire department’s on-duty time. The other, it represents four percent of police resources being taken away from serving their primary mission.

“Irrespective of one’s point of view, the department still needs to consider alternative approaches to how these events are handled,” the reports said. “There is almost universal belief that the practice is disruptive.”

LMPD should adopt the verified response model for burglar alarms.

During the year-long study period, police responded to nearly 28,000 burglar alarms—spending more than 13,000 hours doing so.

More than half of those alarms were false, the study said.

lmpd staffing 5

LMPD in early 2013 implemented a False Alarm Reducation Unit, which is responsbile for the oversight of the false alarm ordinance.

The staffing study found “more could be done to reduce police response to false alarms.”

LMPD should, whenever possible, assign non-sworn staff in positions that do not require police authority.

There are currently 1,237 sworn Louisville Metro Police officers and 294 non-sworn officers, the study said.

Using sworn officers to conduct duties non-sworn officers are capable of is a waste of money and training, the study said.

For example, two sworn detective are currently assigned to the LMPD property room.

The study states it is not unusual for property rooms to be staffed by civilian employees.

“We recommend that non-sworn personnel staff the property room function,” the researchers concluded.

The study outlines that a sworn officer should be assigned to a position only “if it requires the powers, skills and abilities of a police officer,” like the authority to make arrests.

LMPD should adopt a more strategic approach to criminal investigation.

The LMPD robbery unit in 2013 investigated just 14 percent of robberies. Division detectives investigated the remainder, the study found.

“It is difficult to understand the justification for this significant allocation of resources to a rather small fraction of cases,” the researchers concluded.

They recommend some investigative units be decentralized, but the decision to do so “should be based on what makes sense from an operational and organizational perspective.”

For example, the researchers question the “scope” of assignments assigned to homicide and robbery detectives, both of which operate in a decentralized unit.

The homicide unit had two vacancies during the study period, according to the report. And researchers recommend cross-training detectives from related squads, such as the missing persons unit, to help alleviate the workload in the homicide unit.

Determining best practices for organizing investigative units, however, has perplexed police departments for decades, researchers stressed.

A recent study done by researchers at Michigan State University concluded that the criminal investigation process has remained relatively unchanged in the face of the many paradigm shifts in the profession of policing over the past 30 years.”

Other Notes

Researches concluded that Louisville Metro Police is “a very professional organization and staff, one that is highly respected by the community.”

The researchers said a series of community conversations hosted in effort to gauge community expectations had an attendance rate of about 12 people per police division. The eight focus groups were held on March 12 and March 13.

In the study researchers stated that “overall, it was apparent that citizens actually really like and trust the police department” and “there was no evidence of strong tensions between citizens and police.”

The issues the citizens did bring up during the focus groups include communication and engagement. Researchers suggest LMPD work to improve communication between the department and the residents.

Several citizens expressed concern about a lack of feedback following a citizen call. Some said the problem they called police about still persists and they consider the call they made was ignored.

Researchers recommended that police follow up with citizens who provide information to police.

They also suggested the public information office within the department work more closely with news media to get word out about programs and inner workings of the police department.

“There may be many programs and initiatives that LMPD are doing to engage citizens,” the study said. “But no one may know about them because of insufficient publicity.”

LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said the department’s “goal” is to make a decision on each of the recommendations “in the near future.”

 

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.