Staffing Shortages - Overtime - Information Conflicts!
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04/25/2013 01:07:17 PM

Update to Staffing

 

"Public Safety is our No. 1 Priority!"
Read On to Learn about this City's despicable history!

1994 - 9 Patrol Districts in Sector 1 before Sectors began Districts.

2013 FACTS they don't want you to know!

SPD's staffing for uniformed officers in patrol is about: 31 for day watch, 40 for swings, and 28 for late watch. For our city of virtually 100 square miles and with most calls for service requiring two officers to handle, our concerns and those of our police officers are real. Far too often on any day, any shift and any hour, NO UNITS are available to handle even the most critical calls for service.
 

Today (2013) our city may have as few as ONE (1) officer for every 1,000 citizens while it has 8.3 felons on parole for each 1,000 residents. In the 1999-2000 budget cycle, our city claimed to have 1.6 officers per 1,000 city residents. We found it to be 1.4. yet here we are in 2013 and I felt compelled to set the record straight yet again. How could a city cut 167 positions from an already understaffed department in 2011.

Thanks to the comments sections in the Sacramento Bee, we've been here many times in years past albeit, often alone and without community support. This comment is online and was posted on September 2, 2008.

From an officer safety and improved response times on some priority calls, Sacramento Citizens Community Watch supports 2 officer units on all shifts. We continue to oppose non-sworn civilians driving marked patrol units however. The problem is exacerbated by the Mayor and City Council refusal to properly staff SPD, eliminating minimum staffing levels and cutting the number of patrol officers year after year.

Those facts are online in the annual police budget and accounts for excessive overtime costs. As of 8-4-08 authorized strength of Sac PD is: 23 Lieutenants (21 actual) 102 sergeants 90 actual) and 662 Officers (600 actual)

That's a total of 711 sworn police officers to serve a population of 475,743 in 2008. That means for every 1,000 city residents, we have 1.49 officers.

2.8 officers per 1000 is the average according to FBI stats for 2006 within the largest 71 cities in the US with population of over 250,000. Our elected officials are responsible for poor public safety!

What we wanted: Full Disclosure about Patrol Staffing!

The Bee was right on target by posting the current patrol mapping for our city. The evidence of our city government gutting patrol for years is now a public record.  In 1998 our office fell in what was known as Patrol Sector 3 formerly Sector 1. The geographic area covers from the Sacramento River on the West to the county line (Watt Ave.) on the East, the American River on the North and Highway 50 to the South. In 1998 Sector 3 was divided up into nine (9) Patrol Districts. Today, the same area is divided into FIVE?

Compare it to the same patrol area in 2000 with 7 patrol districts.

2011 - A picture is worth $12.2 million dollars!

It was that story and these graphics that prompted this comment years ago:

As director of Sacramento Citizens Community Watch, I met with Councilman Cohn on 3-30-2000 to refute his public testimony: "patrol districts have shrunk giving patrol officers smaller areas they have to patrol." I asked where he had obtained that information. He named then Deputy Chief Matt Powers.

I provided Mr. Cohn with Sector maps from 1998 and 2000.

In '98 there were nine (9) Patrol Districts. In 2000 seven (7).

Was this "New Math" that suggests the pie that has seven slices has smaller pieces than one cut into nine? Yes Mr. Cohn, there was something wrong in 2000. Neither Cohn nor any other elected official would recant the deception on the public record.

The Bee's graphic proves what www.crimewatch.us has reported for years along with maps. City leaders have cut patrol year after year even when the budget was in a surplus.

Just the FACTS: In District 3 alone, (Formerly Sector 3) 9 to 7 and now 3 patrol beats. That's fewer officers to cover more ground then ever before.

The bottom line?  Nothing much has changed in our under-policed city. There is a silver lining... citizen's are learning just where the elected official's real priorities are - Not in PUBLIC SAFETY!

 

What follows is a decade of seeking accountability!

We the People have spoken!
 
Proposition 59. Public Records, Open Meetings -- State of California
(Legislative Constitutional Amendment)

Shall the Constitution be amended to include public's right of access to meetings of government bodies and writings of government officials while preserving specified constitutional rights and retaining existing exclusions for certain meetings and records?

Prop 59 passed 83.3%
Yes votes to 16.7% No votes

 

This is what we wrote when Chief NŠjera made a promise he later broke!

While the issue hasn't changed - The resolve to fix it has! PERHAPS. Chief NŠjera vows to stay on message - bring staffing up to appropriate levels! The Community is banding together to support that message!  Make no mistake - understanding errors in the past insures correction in our future.  To establish that change is in the works, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem!  If we have to resort to Public Records Act or Freedom of Information Act requests, then government has an obligation to honor the will of the people. by providing honest and accurate data.

On July 13, 2004 the morning after another homicide on H Street in Midtown, SCCW discovered that only four patrol cars were available to work all of Sector Three. We brought that to the attention of our elected representatives. In spite of a public document available to the press or anyone else that proved this statement, an effort was made to dodge the facts and cloud the issue. One police manager wrote: "I recognize from your emails that you are concerned about staffing numbers. I would like to allay your fears in this area. As a watch commander, myself and my peers are very cognizant of the staffing needs of our areas, which are based both on call data and experience. We ensure that each shift is appropriately staffed and, when the need arises, we have other resources at our disposal."

January 10, 2005 listening to police radio traffic in Sectors 1, 2 and 3 this morning, only three officers were available to hit the street in Sector 3. Checking staffing levels in Sectors 1 and 2, only four officers were shown in the daily summary for both sectors. Some grave yard units had to be held over and a call was put out for volunteers from other sectors to work overtime. (click on the thumbnail photo to open the proof)

A request of council for accurate reporting on current staffing levels, both authorized position and actual filled position count was made on January 26, 2005:

Mr. Cohn... you mentioned 40 new officers are being hired by SPD.  The chief informed me last summer he would be asking for 40 new positions in addition to the 27 authorized earlier last year.  We're at a point where we need to ask for firm numbers:
 
What is the current Authorized FTE Sworn force
What is the ACTUAL number of FTE positions filled
What is the current status of unfilled sworn positions for SPD
Can the above numbers be provided specifically for the Office of Operations (Patrol Division) as well.

On January 14, 2005 Crimewatch directed an e-mail to the council members representing these sectors along with the proof for Sector 3:

You will remember an exchange of e-mails over Patrol staffing last July.  Today we confirmed what we've been hearing on SPD's Radio Channel 1 & 3 over the last week. What was the exception in July (4 cars working all of Sector 3 on 1st watch) has become a pattern, not necessarily limited to grave yard.  I've only included Sector 3 images but the same low numbers apply to Sectors 1 and 2 at times. Click on the images below and note the number of units working those shifts.
 

To date, informal requests for data and specifics has, for the most part, gone unanswered.  That triggers the need for the more formal Public Records Act requests.  NAG handouts from SPD give the appearance of many available officers.  A closer look at those with Saturday and Sunday off paints a pretty dismal picture in our District 33. Units are routinely pulled to work other short-staffed sectors. That only spreads the pain more evenly.  We need a better way to display the facts if government expects our support.  You, Ms. Sheddy and Mr. Thretheway need to look at the Daily Sector Summaries often to get a real handle on this.  Moving SWAT in for a few much needed, high visibility game plans is a great thing but temporary at best.  Your day to day street cops in Patrol are the backbone of a healthy neighborhood.

As you'll read in the sections below, the way to solve the inability to achieve "Minimum Staffing Levels" in our city was not to hire the officers we need or fill vacancies in Patrol.  The solution from the city and the former police chief was to eliminate the policy of Minimum Staffing Levels.

Is it time for this city to fess up, move on and RESTORE the MINIMUM STAFFING POLICY?

 


Actual "Code-12" (no units available)
Broadcast for Sector One units

UNDER STAFFED?
EXCESSIVE OVERTIME?
POLL: YOU MAKE THE CALL

SPD - Patrol Shortages
ON THE PUBLIC RECORD:  As the Sacramento Police Officer's Association begins the early rounds of negotiations, it seems a conflicting story comes from City Hall and the Chief.  SPOA suggested this publicly, rank and file agrees; severe staffing shortages creates a need to back fill, which creates extra overtime, which causes stress, hazards and management budget woes.

Not so says the chief! Not so says the City Manager! Staffing Shortages? The Chief told KXTV-10 News, “Out of the 664 positions, in the sworn ranks, we have 14 vacancies. For this fiscal year, we're right on target.” He also went on to say, overtime wasn't a problem.

Hear the actual statement!

Note the chart below: The source document for the chart was obtained under the Public Records Act.  It contains instruction to police officers that reads: 

"This is an internal Sacramento Police Department document intended for the exclusive use of its employees. Questions about its distribution outside the Office of Operation shall be coordinated via Sector Captains and the Deputy Chief."

This is the same report that agitated Dep. Chief Powers in 1998 when he was seeking support for Measure M and an additional $18 million in tax money for a department that has seen no net gain in officer despite $40 million in fed grants. So, here's what the Police Department shows for vacancies now in the year 2000.  The Chief must be out of touch with his own management.  He says 14, the chart says 60 and the Table shows 83.

UPDATE: I met with Councilman Steve Cohn on March 30th concerning his belief that Sector 3 patrol districts had shrunk in size giving patrol officers smaller areas to patrol.  I asked point blank, where he had obtained that information.  He said he had been briefed by Deputy Chief Matt Powers.  I provided Councilman Cohn with Sector maps from 1998 and 2000.  In '98 there were nine (9) Patrol Districts.  Today, there are seven (7).  Is there a "New Math" that suggests the pie that has seven slices has smaller pieces than one cut into nine? Yes Mr. Cohn, there is something wrong! Press for the answer.

I want to speak to officers working community policing that the councilman spoke of.  Twice in the last month, we needed to speak with either POP or NPO's that are supposed to be assigned to our midtown area.  In both situations, the Communications Center said they weren't working midtown. I found one backfilling on the drunk wagon.  When I contacted District Officers on a burglary tip (after not finding the former) they said they didn't know the area because they were backfilling from another sector.  An effort to work with swing and grave yard sector sergeants on the auto burglary series has fallen apart because several of these supervisors have been moved to backfill in other areas.

City Manager says it's not impacting public safety! The answer can be seen in the table below.  You'll notice our sector is tied for second worst in unfilled vacancies.  That means more backfill officers from any place they can be found.


"After a brief upward turn in July, the outlook for the rest of the year looks pretty grim..."
During the midyear budget workshops, we heard that the department was depending on academy graduates to help make up some of these shortages.  In a memo to Powers on that subject along with the data presented in the above table, the author warns: " A bit of recovery was experienced during March with the addition of several Phase 4 officers.  This upturn is expected to be short lived, though no substantial downturn is immediately expected.  Staffing levels should dip a bit during the next two or three months until the last of this year's Phase 4's are expected. After a brief upward turn in July, the outlook for the rest of the year looks pretty grim with no anticipated placements [replacements].

The author of this memorandum didn't take into account the new grant obligations SPD has to RT and the School District.  While we've not received an "official" number of officers to be transferred, the City Manager stuck his foot in it at the budget workshops.  I believe the number could be as high as twenty made up of a lieutenant, two sergeants and seventeen officers.  The bulk will come from Patrol as indicated by Thomas.

Councilwoman Hammond ought best to be watching her Oak Park area patrol shortages before touting the Old fashion beat officers that are now community cops!  Her area is hardest hit by unfilled vacancies.


Enter the City Manager, Bob Thomas: The CM boxed my ears last year when I questioned the shift in 15 patrol positions from the Oak Park area.  Even though four council members asked about the same move, he chose to vent his displeasure toward me claiming I was misleading the public and that in fact there was "no reduction in "Authorized" sworn personnel under the 1999-2000 fiscal year budget".  Thomas took the slippery route, changing the subject, not dealing head to head with the questioned issue. We're talking about apples, he wants to address oranges!  When vacancies soar and you take patrol officers out of an area, it a REDUCTION! Forget "Authorized" Mr. Thomas! Let's talk about the "actuals". 

So now Thomas shares the KXTV-10 spotlight with the chief saying there is no reason to worry, with crime rates dropping, staffing is at an acceptable level. Is that based on the Chief's number of 14 or the "Internal Document's" 83?

Hear the statement!

As you review the following tables, remember Venegas said we have "664 positions" ...  That may be accurate: positions are NOT bodies ON THE JOB.  But the statement about 14 vacancies?  So compare the numbers from 1998 to the 2000 table that follows. Draw your own conclusions.  And most importantly, remember these are their internal numbers, not ours!

Hear the SPOA Comment!

THREE VIEWS - You've heard each of them!  This issue is Public Safety, curtailed overtime and staffing shortages.
 


 
Operations (Patrol) Staffing Levels as of September 22, 1998
Operations
D/C
Captains
Lieutenants
Sergeants
Officers
Sworn Totals
CSOs
Authorized
1
4
18
50
431
502
33
Positions Filled
1
5
19
48
386
445
33
Vacancies
0
0
0
2
55
57
6
% Filled
100.0
125.0
105.6
100.0
87.2
89.4
81.9
Long Term
0
0
2
2
19
23
0
TDY
0
0
0
1
2
3
0
Total Vacancies
0
0
2
5
76
83
6
% Working
100.0
125.0
94.4
93.8
82.4
84.3
81.9
 
 

Operations (Patrol) Staffing Levels as of February 8, 2000

Operations
D/C
Captains
Lieutenants
Sergeants
Officers
Sworn Totals
CSOs
Authorized
1
6
16
50
438
511
37
Positions Filled
1
6
16
47
378
448
32
Vacancies
0
0
0
3
60
63
5
% Filled
100.0
100.0
100.0
94.0
86.32
87.7
86.5
Long Term
0
0
0
2
15
17
4
TDY
0
0
0
0
3
3
0
Total Vacancies
0
0
0
5
78
83
9
% Working
100.0
100.0
100.0
90.0
82.2
83.8
75.7

 
 Our Ranking within Cities of Similar Population Statistics

A lot of people like the numbers game. The President's folks will use 2.9 officers per 1,000 residents when it suits them. The figures below range from 1996 to 1999.  What we did, to give a realistic picture, is look at cities with a population range from 350,000 to 450,000 with Sacramento in the middle of the pack. The table reflects the highest ratio to the lowest.

Sacramento Police have not updated their web site since 1995.  The data that does appear in the Historical Staffing Ratios (1-29-05 update: data no longer online) shows 2.0 officers per 1,000 residents in 1975 and a steady decline thereafter.

We've heard mayoral candidate Rob Kerth defend the low staffing ratio by saying we have civilians doing the work other cities use sworn officers for.  We think that's anecdotal at best and in some cases a sad commentary at worst. (The Communications Center and Records for example)  Those horror stories for another time. We do demonstrate at the end of this page, situations where sworn officers are doing work best left to agencies and or civilians that create the problem.  Perhaps the City Council would like to address those issues if they can't cite evidence to support their other claims.

Suffice it to say, the FY 1999-2000 city budget says we have 643 authorized sworn positions ( See Department Funding Summaries) (1-29-05 update: data no longer online) while the chief recently said we have 664, were we to take 83 vacancies away from the Chief's number, that would put us at 581 or about 1.4 officers per 1,000 residents.  We doubt other cities do that either, so we'll use the higher numbers.

 

City
State
City's Population
Sworn Officers
Residents per Officer
Officers per 1,000
St. Louis
MO
379,000
1,587
239
4.19
Pittsburgh
PA
387,190
1,250
310
3.23
Miami
FL
358,548
1,090
329
3.04
Kansas City
MO
435,146
1,178
369
2.71
Richmond
VA
413,000
1,106
373
2.68
Indianapolis
IN
390,000
1,025
380
2.63
Fort Worth
TX
447,617
1,173
382
2.62
Cincinnati
OH
364,040
935
389
2.57
Minneapolis
MN
373,000
864
432
2.32
Albuquerque
NM
425,000
928
458
2.18
Tulsa
OK
379,587
786
483
2.07
Long Beach
CA
437,000
839
521
1.92
Tucson
AZ
445,524
834
534
1.87
Oakland
CA
350,000
630
556
1.8
Virginia Beach
VA
425,000
693
613
1.63
Sacramento
CA
403,000
643
647
1.6
Fresno
CA
402,000
526
764
1.31

 
Observations:  Most of the time, when officials talk about the number of officers in our city, they speak in terms of "Authorized Positions". That's not what we'll focus on here; rather, how many officers are actually on the street. When you dial 911, that's what counts. The numbers in the tables reflect only the staffing in the Office of Operations (Patrol and POP/NPO officers) and are from the police department's own data. The number of patrol officers on any given shift will vary due to sick days, vacation time or leave. On any given day, Neighborhood Police Officers will make up for shortages in "Minimum Staffing Levels" by changing NPO hats and "back filling" as patrol officers. According to the Police Officer's Association, many officers have been working 14 to 16 hour shifts every day or every other day!

One critical issue needs to be dealt with by city government. On any given grave yard (late watch), CITY WIDE, we have a few as 28 officers on the street. This often means available resources are strained when there is a major incident like a homicide or several critical calls like armed robbery. This may mean your 911 call will have no officers to respond.

There has been little or no change in Patrol. In 1998, it appears that a net gain of about 7% (mostly in upper management) had been accomplished.

Overtime Issue:  In the recent Mid-Year budget review, council members were treated to a $670,000 overrun in the police budget. Not one council member questioned it, nor the issue of overtime increases due to staffing shortages.  The Chief and City Manager both told KXTV-10 it wasn't a problem and Venegas said he'd come in under budget! That begs another question!

If Overtime is within budget, where's the money for the 63 vacant positions in Patrol/POP alone?

ENTER Deputy Chief Matt Powers: In a memorandum to all Area Captains dated February 29, 2000 the evidence is clear:
 

SUBJECT: BUDGET SAVINGS OVERTIME

The Department needs to save $500,000 during the rest of this Fiscal Year to come in on budget. Your oversight and "active assistance" is needed to achieve this goal, As a team, we need to save $300,000 in overtime costs between now and the end of June.

To assist you in determining the best way to do this, I point out some year-to-date totals from the latest 000 [Office of Operations] overtime report (January 2000).

  • Vehicle Patrol overtime (also known as "end of shift") totals through January were above
  • $294,000. We are projected for the full FY to reach more than $504,000.
  • Backfill Overtime stands at over $281,000, and projects out to be $482,000.
  • Unattributed overtime is at $87,193, projected to be over $149,000.
I expect that immediate and decisive action be taken to reduce current expenditures.
  • End of shift overtime is to be seriously reduced and/or eliminated if at all possible. 
  • Backfill overtime is to be cut back. I am prepared to prohibit the use of backfill overtime except in emergency situations, using Officers assigned to specialty units to man patrol units; this action will be deferred pending the success of efforts to impact overtime costs. 
  • Unattributed overtime is to be zero. There will no longer be overtime approved by a supervisor of this Office, nor a time sheet signed if overtime is not attributed to a "correct" job number.  Efforts should also be made to identify the source of the $87,000 plus already approved.
Obviously, these steps will only go so far. I leave it to your ingenuity to effect the balance. Please identify related program costs so that the Chief can appropriately advise the City Manager's office.

Respond to me by the end of business on Monday, March 6, 2000, as to your plans to achieve this goal.

RIGHT ON TARGET? Powers writes: "The Department needs to save $500,000 during the rest of this Fiscal Year to come in on budget." The City Council was presented with the following explanation of the budget overrun. The paragraph after the bullet list explains why needed cops won't be on the street for the rest of the year!

POLICE DEPARTMENT Midyear Budget City Staff Report Hear Council Testimony

MIDYEAR PROJECTED OVERRUN: $670,000
  • $220,000 Increased costs for medical evidentiary exams of assault victims.
  • $390,000 Increased costs for communications including phone system, voicemail, cellular phones, terminal access to registration and criminal history databases.
  • $500,000 Increased overtime costs, tied to backfill and end-of-shift overtime, as well as special task force and Y2K readiness efforts.
  • $358,000 One-time cost to implement  the City standard local-area network-based electronic mail and appointment system, requiring hardware, software and a firewall security system
  • $150,000 Increased costs for maintenance of the department's fleet of vehicles
  • The department has committed to reduce spending in FY 1999-00 by $500,000. It plans to use $91,000 of carryover savings from FY99, and anticipates FY 1999-00 increased department revenues of $357,000. This results in a projected overrun of $670,000.

    MIDYEAR AUGMENTATION: $113,300

  • $63,300 One- time cost for the In Car Camera program for management of tapes including shelving and copying and inventory tracking equipment.
  • $50,000 One time cost for temporary contract workers to upgrade to most recent network operating program and to roll out an upgrade of the electronic mail and appointment system.

  • Conclusions: No staffing problems, no overtime problems, no public safety concerns and no questions from city council.

    SOME SUGGESTIONS ON THE OVERTIME ISSUE:

    • When the jail says we won't book a prisoner because he refuses to give up the dope in his mouth, call the Deputy Chief at home. Maybe he can save a trip to the med center to "clear" a stubborn drug dealer.
    • When the Receiving Home lets runaways walk out the door after police take them there for secure holding for an outside agency, let CPS look for them.
    • Suggest Juvenile Hall have a drunk tank instead of turning drunk driving teens away forcing patrol officers to provide taxi service to the hospital.
    • When the police department's computer system goes down for hours, don't tie up patrol officers and investigators because Record's doesn't want to "manually issue" report numbers.
    • Have Reserve Officers baby-sit criminal suspect hospital patients.  Suggest the Sheriff baby-sit prisoners the jail nurse rejects for skin rashes, too intoxicated for the jail, too intoxicated for detox, etc. etc.
    • Solve the Board-Up conflict so patrol officers don't have to stand-by on a window smash or break-in when no property owner can be found or is reluctant to respond.
    • Suggest County Mental Health pick up the cost of transporting depressed patients instead of patrol officers providing free rides to social service facilities.
    • Audit the proceeds of the City's contracting out off duty sworn officers for private security work and where the funds are used.  Police budget or General Fund?
    • Audit reimbursements from P.O.S.T. Is SPD retaining the funds and are they maximized for the benefit of the Police Department.
     

    The People, not government, should have the last word. If we don't take a stand, invite debate and demand answers, we shall become subjects of tyranny. The Legislature made it Law! "The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

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