Heralded by a City press release and a brief story buried inside the second section of today’s local daily, the 580-page document entitled Public Safety Police Operations is replete with fascinating factoids and plenty of opinions about what the police department, emergency management services, and the police monitor should be doing differently. Those who are more comfortable with report lite will find an executive summary on pages i through xiii. This document is an effort outsourced from the office of the city auditor, to the tune of $315,000. The local daily item bears this anodyne heading “Audit of police suggests ways to cut costs: Officials working to put many suggestions in place.”
There’s much more to the report than that, and it should not vanish without more comment than what runs along the lines of “we’re already doing what’s important and we’re doing it well and anything we’re not doing is because it’s not important.” The report, a year in the making, contains, according to the city auditor’s site, 123 recommendations, including 107 for the police department, 8 for emergency services, 7 for the police monitor, and one for the city manager’s office. The auditor’s site continues, “APD concurred with 89 recommendations, PSEM with 7, OPM with 7 and the City Manager’s Office did not concur with its recommendation.”
Among the many discussions of matters I’ve wondered about myself is a lengthy consideration of the cost of special events that use the streets and parks, as well as a discussion of the assignment of law enforcement officers and how the cost is figured and assessed. This portion of the report begins at section 5.4.2 (page 230, ending at page 244), concerning the special events unit of the police department. Other topics of interest include matters related to homeland security, traffic enforcement, training, the area or district commands, organization generally, and much, much more.
My favorite recommendation, and the police chief disagrees entirely with it, is to discontinue “air enforcement,” otherwise known as the airplane, plus the helicopter that rattles windows, shines searchlights into houses, awakens the innocent from their sleep many nights a week, and serves no apparent useful purpose. If I read the table correctly, this little item is budgeted to cost us a mere $1,691,400 for fiscal year 2008-09. And let’s not forget that fuel costs are rising. This recommendation is discussed in detail on pages 579-81. “This recommendation would save the city about $1 million annually in operating and insurance costs. The re-deployment of staff would result in an annual savings (cost avoidance) of $691,400.”