Webinar presenter Peter Bellmio answered a number of your questions after his presentation, “Patrol Staffing Analysis Tools.” Here are a few of his responses.
Audience Question: One audience member is trying to re-start use of MPP. Do you have any suggestions on how they might be restarted on using it?
Peter Bellmio: First thing would be to find the manual. If they want to contact me, I know some places that use MPP that would be more than happy to help out. If they can send me the email, I’ll hook them up with somebody. If they’re Canadian or in the US, wherever they are, who is closer to them and they would be able to talk to.
Audience Question: What type of queuing model should law enforcement deploy?
Peter Bellmio: I think either MPP or Ops Force has all the tools in them. Those are the two that I know of that are purely queuing. PAM spreadsheets use some of the queuing formulas for time, distance and speed .But it’s geared to larger areas. If you’re a big Florida county, you might want to look at PAM to get your total numbers of personnel or you’re a state agency. But the two I know of in the market that fit local police agencies are MPP and Ops Force.
Audience Question: Do you have any recommended approaches to address downtime in law enforcement? Some typical strategies that you suggest?
Peter Bellmio: First thing that you do is analyze it and see what it is about. One of the things we look at is how much time is spent on follow-ups. Some agencies have officers do a lot of investigation but some of those cases are going to go no place, I’d say that maybe we really shouldn’t be assigning some of those cases for follow-up. You really have to analyze the downtime to say what’s driving it and how we could make officers more available. You really just have to get the facts on it.
Audience Question: Is there a typical agency size above which you recommend that they invest in specialized software and go beyond just using a spreadsheet?
Peter Bellmio: The big variable is how important is emergency response time to you. Does your geography work against it? Have you got some large areas to patrol? We have places where emergency response time is not an issue because we say people voted with their feet. They decided to live in a beautiful rural county and they have to know if we’re not going to get there in 7 minutes for an emergency call. To achieve a 7 minute emergency response time in those areas, their taxes would very high pay for that level of service. It really is not so much the size of the agency but how important is emergency response time to you and if it’s really a problem in your community, you can’t fix it with a spreadsheet model, you need a queuing model.
Audience Question: Can you use these kinds of analysis techniques for non-patrol personnel? For example, determine how big of a caseload an investigator can reasonably manage? And if so, what kind of information do you need to have access to?
Peter Bellmio: Actually, criminal investigations requires an entirely different approach to staffing analysis. I’d be glad to send out PowerPoint slides for a course I have on that topic.
Audience Question: How do you account for unexpected natural disasters such as mudslides and fires that heavily impact staffing levels for a period of time when comparing that time to other time periods and using the data for analysis.
Peter Bellmio: If you have a major event like that, you’d have to segregate that out of the data and look at past time periods. This is where it gets tricky. Because what you have to do is if you’re a growing community, let’s say, last year you had 2 months of a major disaster. You have to go back and reconstruct those two months using previous years’ data and plot a line that gets maybe 3 or 4 years of data for those months and see if there is a growth in call trends. Time spent on calls doesn’t move that quickly because of the habits of people but call rates can go up over time. So you have to repair that data by using an analysis of the last 3 years of those two missing months to come up with a picture that you could go forward with.
Audience Question: When doing your analysis, are there signs that indicate the presence or possibility of burnout amongst patrol staff? If so, can you talk about some of those indicators?
Peter Bellmio: One of the big ones is sick leave if job satisfaction is low. The other is when patrol officers spend more time on calls. If they spend most of their day answering calls, the public becomes a nuisance. I think we can correlate civilian complaints that are just basic third-grade please and thank you issues because patrol officers get so worn out answering calls that you see it shows up in the complaints.
Audience Question: How do you suggest to determine administrative time as compared to time officers spend following up on a call after they have technically cleared from the call in the CAD system?
Peter Bellmio: Everybody wrestles with this one. You just have to be consistent in how you do it. Let’s say, if you’re going to leave the scene, you’re going to end the call and go into a status of follow up. The problem with that is, they may be pulled for another call. One of the ways agencies do it is to make a policy decision that people are going to change location, continue to do their investigation and clear when they clear the investigation. It’s really just getting the instrumentation straight and consistent practices for recording time.
Click here to watch a recording of “Patrol Staffing Analysis Tools.”