If you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros. Jaime Lerner
Budget decisions have consequences. Lack of making a decision has other costs. Our police budget reflects what kind of police department Eurekan’s want. More than the mere number of officers responding to calls for service, what our staff does to control crime and make Eureka safe drives our mission…and should reflect in our budget.
EPD will have to reinvent how we do things to make us more streamlined and efficient to fill the vacuum created by laying off PSO’s and annuitants.
Here is EPD’s plan:
- Two PSO positions are being repurposed to handle indispensable functions.
- An evidence technician will be assigned to handle missing persons and forensic evidence department wide.
- An Administrative Technician will collect and analyze crime and budget data while seeking grants to help fund the department and reduce the cost to citizens.
- Implement CopLogic®, a software program that allows citizens to file police reports electronically. It will save thousands of personnel hours. If a person does not have access to the Internet, they can file a report at the front counter or an officer can be sent. These will be for mostly low level property crimes where there is little likelihood of evidentiary value.
- Refine how EPD responds to calls
- One of our most frequent calls for service are 911 cellular “butt dials” where nothing is heard. Currently we triangulate the location and send officers to see if there is a problem. That will cease unless there is something to indicate a problem exists.
- We are reprioritizing the list of calls for service and the number of officers that respond to calls.
- Citizens will have to exchange information at non-injury traffic collisions. Cars blocking the roadway or disputes over accidents will necessitate a police response. It is a civil matter that insurance companies handle.
- Officers will not pick up property such as hypodermic needles, couches and clothes. The resident will have to dispose of them.
- Sex registrants will register when staff can handle the volume, not when convenient for the registrant. Currently there are no predatory registrants, but many who are directed by the courts to register.
- We may have to hold “cold” calls or schedule them for a free officer at a time convenient for the caller.
- Traffic Division will now handle vehicle abatement and impounds.
- EPD will look at different staffing formulas to handle calls for service. The new CAD/RMS will help analyze when to deploy for maximum calls for service.
- EPD will use capable volunteers to staff some functions such as Neighborhood Watch.
Noted and popular author John C. Maxwell said, “Look at our society. Everyone wants to be thin, but nobody wants to diet. Everyone wants to live long, but few will exercise. Everybody wants money, yet seldom will anyone budget or control their spending.”
Wearing a few too many pounds around my waist I can tell you firsthand, I would rather not exercise and diet. But I do. I know I need to. Budgetarily so does the City of Eureka. There needs to be a structurally sound and sustainable budget to move us forward and help us achieve our goals as a community.
Strategically, EPD is moving forward with modernization, greater accountability and increased transparency. We are feverishly working with the community to prevent crime, like Eureka Main Street’s walking patrols, Westside community NOW and the O Street walking teams. You’ll see them in florescent green jackets. This is not by mistake but a larger part of EPD working shoulder to shoulder with community members. You can expect more to come!
EPD wants to put officers on foot and bikes and send them into neighborhoods. There is already an Old Town and a School Resource Officer in addition to a Problem Oriented Policing team loved by everyone. On days we are heavily staffed, officers are on foot, patrolling crime “Hot Spots” looking to suppress criminal activity. The community and our officers want body worn cameras and the capacity to store the data. EPD is pushing for less than lethal weapons to save lives, de-escalation training and mental health training in addition to multiple unfunded state mandated training. There will also soon be a Chief’s Advisory Panel with extensive training. We are working to solve the problems associated with homelessness and it’s a huge expense to EPD and the city.
I wish there were simple solutions. The reality is the majority of EPD’s budget expenses related to personnel. Below are the broad categories that comprise EPD’s budget.