Local News

Study shows Spokane Police Department needs more officers

SPOKANE, Wash. - A new study of Spokane's Police Department shows it needs a lot more officers.

The numbers are just a snapshot, as the full report will be released in 30 days.

But the snapshot does show that the police department needs another 44 officers on the streets in order to split their time evenly between taking calls for help and patrolling beats.

The City of Spokane said they ordered the study as they wanted to get a good snapshot of what is happening within the police department.

"To be able to know how long officers are on scene, how much goes in to responding to each individual call beyond just the response, the report writing that happens, the time on scene, and how much legislative decision impact time on scene," said Brian Coddington, Spokesman for the City of Spokane.

And help them to make better decisions on staffing.

Tim Freesmeyer, who is performing the study, said a police department should strive to have their patrol officers police at a 30-30 level.

"Which means for every 60 minutes an officer spends, 30 minutes should be spent on reacting/responding to a call, and 30 minutes on proactive policing," said Coddington.

Currently, patrol personnel spend an average of 37.5 minutes per hour responding to reports, based on three years of calls, department data, and crime data used in the study.

Patrick Striker, Director of Spokane Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, works with the citiziens and officers every day and thinks that number is about right.

"I mean I certainly think the SPD does need more officers," Striker said. "I know there's always a concern from the community here at the COP shops that the response time isn't as quick as people would like it and sometimes there is no response."

Most of the people his volunteers deal with daily have issues with nuisance properties and property crime, often the lowest priority for our busy officers.

"What the policymakers are going to have to decide is if that is the right balance for the City of Spokane," said Coddington.

Espeically when 44 additional officers wil cost the city an estiamted $5.5 million. Because of that hefty price tag, there are discussions of shifting responsibilities of officers. For instance, right now, a uniformed officer needs to be present to impound a vehicle. Perhaps that could become a part of the city's code enforcement functions.