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RPDLess than a decade after dramatically reorganizing the Rochester Police Department, another overhaul may in the works.

In 2004, the city went from seven police patrol divisions to two. The East and West division model gave the department the flexibility to deploy officers where they are needed most. Officers were assigned car beats, but many took calls in a wider area during their shifts. The city has maintained the model saved millions of dollars through more efficient staffing and less building space.

Residents felt they lost their connection with police officers, who were patrolling a much wider area of the city.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports the city may go to a quadrant system:

The next big change?

Perhaps restructuring the department from its current East/West division into quadrants, with the downtown detail as the “doughnut hole,” Sheppard said.

(Councilman Adam) McFadden and (police union president Mike) Mazzeo, typically on opposite sides of crime-related issues, would welcome that change, and want Sheppard and Richards to restore the seven-section model the City Council chose to eliminate in 2004.

Critics of the 2004 move perennially push to restore the sections.

McFadden and Mazzeo say the current East/West model inhibits relations with the community, and fosters a lower morale among officers who do not feel a connection with the neighborhoods.

“We have lost a lot of the valuable relationships we had under the old system, people feel as if they’ve lost support and lost contact with the officers,” McFadden said.

The Center for Governmental Research helped the city design the reorganization. It looks like CGR last analyzed the results in 2005. Perhaps it should be engaged to take another look at how the reorganization went. Such an analysis could look at crime, response times, overtime, management and community input.

Links of the Day:

– The Syracuse Post-Standard slammed patronage in Onondaga County government.

– The state assembly will vote on a bill barring welfare recipients from withdrawing cash at bars and strip clubs. 

– SUNY spent $300,000 for a conference on “systemness.” The cocktail party alone exceeded $30,000.

– An op-ed in the New York Times urges the Catholic church to place saving schools above all else.

– When you’re an atheist in a tragedy, you don’t have to ask why God allows such awful things to happen.

9 Responses to Police Sections: 7 to 2 to 4?

  1. Told to me by a high ranking (and now extremely high ranking) member of the fire department years ago:
    ‘Do you know why the police budget never gets slashed while ours does year after year? Because they always have a ‘plan’ in the works for how to modify the department to fight crime. When you have a plan you need 4-5 years to see how it works out. During that time you are developing the new plan that will follow the one being implemented. The one thing you need for these plans is a consistent number of officers otherwise the ‘plan’ is no longer valid. So you go down from 7 Sections to 2 (as the RPD was doing at the time of this conversation) and you say I need xyz number of officers to make that work and I will need at least that many for 4-5 years to see if it actually works. That guarantees your staffing for 4-5 years as you develop the ‘new’ plan (4 Sections which is exactly what this guy said would be the next plan) that will most likely call for the same or higher number of officers. That plan will then be implemented requiring that xyz number of officers again and they just keep doing that every 4-5 years. We plan nothing and every year they come and drop 4-5 firefighters off of our T of O. We need a plan to stabilize our staffing levels just like the police have. It might mean some cuts at first, but we can do that through retirements. Then we will have a staffing level that they can’t cut or it will throw the plan into chaos.”

    Unfortunately the fire chief at the time The Plan was started wasn’t politically savvy enough to pull it off and survive and the plan then went to pot and the cuts were decimating to the department in both morale and ability to provide the services the public and politicians expect. But the guy who told me this…… he gets it, like the police have for a long, long time. The ‘it’ is; our political leaders don’t want to know what we do and why we can/can’t accomplish the goals they want for us, they just want it to appear that they are somehow involved in ‘changes’ so they can stand up in front of ignorant citizens and say ‘look what I made them change for YOU’.

  2. January 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    There also needs to be a 5th police section- for downtown.

  3. I agree Kevin, or they should just revert back to the old 7 and negotiate with the Union to keep the ability to cross section lines when needed; but adding the 5th Section…… that’s the next plan. They’ve got some smart fellas over in there on the Finest’s side of the house.

  4. Why can’t the police function like the fire dept? Administratively they split the city in half, but there are groups that are small divisions assigned to certain neighborhoods. They spend most of their time in that neighborhood, but can relocate or cross boundries for big incidents. Really why can’t each shift have cops assigned to a specific subsection of the west or east side?

  5. The Fire Dept. was split into 2 Battalions from 3 as a purely budgetary/union busting move. It was not part of the ‘plan’ that the previous chief began and was completely the result of budget hostage taking by Budget Bill and City hall as a last ditch effort to continue to steal the 2% Foreign Insurance Fund. They thought the Union would fold before allowing 4 Battalion Chiefs positions to be eliminated (and 2 more demoted to Captain). The Union held on forcing the city to comply with the multiple court orders to hand over control of the funds to an elected board. The 2 Battalion Chiefs were re-promoted but Battalion 3 was never re-opened. This resulted in a complete change of on scene operating procedure, removing yet another body from being able to active do firefighting (by having to take command because the 2 Chiefs are out on other calls), all the result of politics and money and not sound firefighting tactics and strategy. But that is what happens when the top members of a department as specialized and critical as the fire dept. are appointed political positions. You sometimes end up with under-qualifed people who got jobs strictly because of their zip code. The Police moves are tactually based and concerned with keeping officers in certain areas as much as possible. Whereas firehouse locations are strategically based and the tactics used on scene are based on resources on scene, en route to the scene and where they are heading to the scene from (ETA). Less Personnel, longer response times, fewer vehicles all mean a change of tactics. Again, all a result of politics and budget mismanagement.

  6. Whether its 2 or 3 doesn’t matter. The point is even with the cops current east-west set up. Why can’t the west(or east) section be further subdivided with officers being assigned to work in those subdivisions? For example a west side cop could be assigned to a Genesee St section and spend his time there, answer calls there, etc and only leaving that area for a significant incident or due to a lack of resources in another subdivision. Just like the firehouse on Genesee St stays in that neighborhood unless there is a large incident or resources tied up and they need to relocate. Its not like they are not responding to incidents in the entire battalion. I don’t really care how many sections the cops have as long as its not wasting resources that could be on the street for redundant administrative tasks. So unless admin functions are suffering under 2 sections, why can’t the cops do as I described above? and if they did move to 4 sections, would it take resources from the street (or other city departments) and use them in an office?

  7. I don’t know if you’re aware how small he number of patrol officers is. There are way more firefighters on duty in the stations at any time than there are plain old patrolmen, in uniform and marked cars out on the street. They have huge numbers assigned to the PSB in various details. Their supervisors supervise only, so Sgt. and up don’t ‘work’ whereas all ranks in the Fire Dept from firefighter to Captain actually work (drag hoses, place ladders, etc.). The difference is due to their contact which specifies various staffing/assignments/etc. (we have nothing like that in our contract contrary to popular opinion) so the best way for the city to move manpower in the PD is to negotiate, but the previous administrations kept playing the game of ‘we don’t have to follow your contracts or negotiate, we have unlimited legal resources’ and they kept losing, preferring to use the press to incite fear in the community. The newer administrations of the Mayors/Budget office, Police and Fire Dept., and both unions actually talk and if there is public discussion of a 4 Section plan than that means there is progress towards moving that way, proving the incompetence of the previous administrations which in the end cost taxpayers. But hey, they all have moved on to higher levels of politics and money. Hopefully we are done with the politics crap and the need for 4-5 year plans and the people in uniform can focus on doing their jobs for the average citizen.

  8. Pingback: Police to Survey Residents » The Rochesterian

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