We need 13 – 361 New Police Officers?

Posted January 5th, 2017 @ 7:03 AM by

Uh . . . I’m not sure where to begin, but no, you don’t Chief Koval. In fact, there could be a plan where you REDUCE officers . . . but when you ask the police to study themselves . . . what kind of answer do you expect? I think every department in the city should be asked to do the same thing. And hell, let’s throw in the non-profits too – In fact, I just studied the Tenant Resource Center and we need 3 – 50 new staff people to keep up with the growing needs of tenants who are now more than 50% of the City of Madison. I mean, sometimes we’re 400 phone calls behind in the summer and early fall.

So, unfortunately, I know a little bit more about this than I ever thought I would because I sat on the 2003 Police Staffing committee, the last time the public and alders were allowed to do that kind of thing, since then experts and internal MPD committees have been studying it and being as opaque as possible . . . including not sharing their reports with the city council when we were deciding how many officers needed to be added after the 2007 report.

The biggest issue is how to decide how many officers are needed, there are multiple methodologies. In 2003 we were at 1.8 officers per 1,000 people. We recommended they go to 1.9, but we also recommended that the count ALL the police that patrol the city, including UW and Capital police and the sheriff’s department. They only remember the first part most of the time. In 2007 they did a fancy report with a hired consultant (which they wouldn’t give to the alders until after the vote – oh, right, I think I already mentioned that) which is what Koval calls the “gold-standard” to figure out how many officers they need – it gives them the lowest number 13. Since then, they have been repeating the formulas for 2007. Another way is to look at comparable cities – WHICH IS MUCH HARDER THAN YOU THINK! – because you have to look at a lot of components to figure out which cities are comparable. At the time we looked at capital cities with universities. We may have had some other criteria, but I remember thinking that we didn’t have enough information about if the services provided were comparable – how did they count their parking enforcement people and did they provide jail services, how do they count their civilian employees and which duties did they perform, etc. etc. etc.

In Koval’s blog, he says (emphasis added):

So what do these figures mean? Well, the workload analysis is the closest thing to a formula for determining police staffing, and that indicates MPD needs an additional thirteen officers for the patrol function alone. And for MPD staffing levels to match these population ratios we would need to:

  • To match the comparable/benchmark city average staffing, MPD would need to add 87 officers
  • To match the five largest Wisconsin cities average staffing, MPD would need to add 211 officers
  • To match the FBI averages, MPD would need to add between 37 and 361 officers (depending on which precise group is used for comparison)

That’s quite the range . . . 13 to 361? So, a 2.8 – 78.3% increase? That’s just ludicrous. I mean, its outright laughable.

What we need to do is look at the functions the police are doing, and determine if they are the best ones to be doing that and if those functions are needed.

Chief Koval is pounding on the table as he reads that and his face is turning red. But, its true. Let’s really study this – with the public and alders – in full view of the the big bright sun! Police are trained in the skills they need to do the basics of their jobs. Let’s train them well and have them focus on what they are best at. Let’s leave the social work to the social workers. And for christsake . . . do we really need them watching people’s houses while they are on vacation? The Madison Police Department offers “extra patrol” while you are away. I’m not kidding, here’s the form you can fill out – right here in Mayberry! And how much are we spending on this campaign to get kids and elderly people to trust the police, while ignoring anyone who says anything critical?

Trying to get the information on what they do is also harder than you think. I remember trying to cut little programs here and there and whenever you tried to do that, they’d tell you that you’d cut $1000 for supplies and the rest was just absorbed in officer time and since you can’t cut their hour we wouldn’t have any staffing savings. They have all the answers and are ready with all the tricks.

In 1994 they had 326 officers, or 1.6 per 1,000 residents. Today they have 461 or 1.9 per 1,000 residents. Name another department in the city that has grown like that?!?!?

From their report “The number of sworn full-time equivalent (FTEs) employees grew 41.4% from 1994 to 2016; the number of civilian FTEs grew 88.5%; and the Department as a whole grew 48.8%.”

From other reports done, we know from 2000 – 2015 their budget has grown from $35 million to $66 million. That’s an 88.41% or $31M increase. The fire department did a little better, they had a 91% increase, but it was only $22M. IT had a 93% increase, but it was a $2.8 million dollar increase. Departments like Public Health had a 12% or $.5 million dollar increase.

I suspect if you had departments study themselves, they would all come up with the need for increases, huge increases. But then they all work at the pleasure of the Mayor with 5 year contracts that have to get renewed . . . the chief doesn’t, so I then suspect their “needs” would decrease “at the pleasure of the mayor”.

Just imagine if they did this kind of analysis for the non-profits that some years don’t get any increase and when we’re lucky we get a 1% increase in our funding, no look at the ACTUAL costs or growth of the city. Or actual need.

So, why are they releasing this study now. Typically its done around budget time . . . to show the need for increased budgets.

Hmmm . . . let me see, what else could it possibly be . . . what’s going on about now in our community . . . hmmmm, wonder if it has anything to do with the upcoming elections and the bid to knock off Mo Cheeks with anything-the-chief-wants-I-support Steve Fitzsimmons?

It’s just gross. It’s so blatantly obvious that this is just another political play to get a more sympathetic council to approve their budget. Could you imagine any other department in the city pulling a stunt like this? No, its unimaginable. The department head would be fired.

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