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city hiring new officers

Police report advocates 129 new cops and more efficiency

March 8, 2007

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By Stuart Colcleugh

Vancouver city council voted Feb. 27 to hire 17 new police officers—far fewer than the 129 officers over two years recommended in a recent Vancouver Police Department (VPD) report headed by SFU criminologist Curt Griffiths. Hiring new officers was just one of the recommendations in the 1,335-page report, which was commissioned by the city in 2005 to find ways to improve policing.

Much of the report outlines suggestions to make better use of the department's existing resources. It says city police spend too much time simply reacting to emergencies and 911 calls and not enough unallocated time on proactive measures to prevent crime.

VPD officers, it notes, spend about two-thirds of their time responding to calls for service, whereas "at optimum efficiency, patrol officers will spend approximately 30 to 35 per cent of their time committed to calls for service." The report says the department's 11-minute, 25-second average response time to high-priority calls is the highest in North America, adding, "police agencies should aspire to a best practice seven-minute… average response time."

The report further observes that each year, the VPD is unable to attend approximately 1,500 noise complaints, 1,400 annoying circumstances, 650 suspicious circumstances, 650 suspicious persons, 600 unwanted persons, 450 disturbing parties and 450 hazardous situations. The report's other recommendations include:

  • Reducing the total number of officers working in roving district surveillance teams (DSTs) and reducing the number of DSTs from four to two.
  • Reducing the frequency and length of special patrol-based projects targeting specific crime problems, commonly referred to as Charlie or Delta projects.
  • Reducing the number of two-officer units, from 65 to 60 per cent, with 40 per cent deployed as single-officer units.
  • Assigning more calls for service to the Emergency ResponseTeam, which assists patrol officers with the most serious calls.
  • Creating a new Wednesday-Saturday night shift to increase policing on the city's busiest crime days.

  

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