Patrol Allocation Decisions

All police departments grapple with the challenge of allocating their limited resources to meet law enforcement needs of the communities they serve. Crucial to alleviating the cost pressures the departments face is patrol force allocation. Most of the budgets go to salaries and expenses, such as fringe benefits, which mean that increases in personnel utilization efficiencies would result in dollar savings. As such, it is the duty of police chiefs to determine what the patrols will look like regarding when and where the patrols will take place. This paper, thus, seeks to outline how the Centervale Police Department should allocate patrol resources to serve the needs of Centervale best.

Patrols are meant to eliminate criminal opportunities by creating an impression of presence in the community. However, patrols do not decrease an individual’s desire to break the law but by diminishing the opportunities to commit a crime, they promote a sense of safety to residents (Frogner et al., 2013). As the assistant chief in the Centervale Police Department, CPD, one would develop a strategy that caters for both sides of the railroad tracks with fairness although with an emphasis on the crime-prone north.

The CPD assistant chief should allocate patrol resources to reassure visibility to the community, respond to emergency situations, and deter crime in the north side of the railroad tracks. Additionally, the allocation must take into consideration the complexities of the police patrol function. The allocation would depend on the officers available to immediately respond to an emergency, the array of tasks and performance objectives assigned to patrol, visibility in the community, the need to meet response time goals, and the need to perform proactive activities (Frogner et al., 2013). However, it is crucial to desist from allocating the patrol resources depending on police-population basis since both sides of the railroad tracks have an equal population but different crime rates.

The assistant chief would also consider using preventive and directed patrols. Random preventive patrol strategies aim to increase visibility in the community to deter crime and reduce the general public’s fear of crime. However, this method of patrols is ineffective at apprehending offenders. Directed patrols in Centervale would use hot spot policing approach by increasing the presence of uniforms on the northern side of the railroad tracks, where crime is most prevalent at night (Braga, 2005). However, that would come at a price to the south side since the residents of the south of railroad tracks contribute more to the town’s taxes. The assistant chief would have to use the money coming from the south side for crime deterrence in the north to prevent migration of criminals to the south.

Studies have shown a 23 percent decrease in violent crime in Philadelphia when directed patrol intervention was used in the intervention hot spots (Ratcliffe et al., 2011). Therefore, officers can be placed in hot spots on the northern side of Centervale, where 80 percent of the crime takes place. Conversely, hot spots would also be needed on the south side since there is 20 percent rate of crime with more hotspots at night than during the day. Therefore, the dosage of patrol in the area would be determined by the categories created from time spent in hot spots in addition to the crime calls related effects compared to the drive-by patrol results (Braga, 2005). The directed patrol officers would receive specialized training to enhance community involvement and support.

Concerning the broken windows model of policing, the assistant chief would focus on the importance of disorder in generating and sustaining crime (Fagan, Geller, Davies & West, 2010). Therefore, the assistant chief would work together with his task force to disrupt the process of fear and withdrawal from residents. The process would involve focusing on disorder and less severe crime in Centervale as well as promoting higher levels of informal social control to assist community members in taking control of their neighborhood and preventing serious crime from escalating (Fagan et al., 2010). The CPD can also apply zero-tolerance policing by aggressively policing against crime and every violator arrested.

Foot patrols would be effective in addressing minor crime and disorder problems on the beats, for instance, small-time drug dealers, prostitution, and loud youths. Addressing such small crimes would elicit interest from residents who would, in turn, feel safer and thus restore confidence in the police units and make the neighborhood safer by asserting informal social control. As a result, the residents would increase their property safety and thus attract other people and investors into Centervale. The foot patrol officers would become well known to the residents and thus increase the probability of closely working with the area residents to curb crime (Frogner et al., 2013).

The CPD would also ensure that notions of fairness and equity in the department are adhered to so as to encourage all the officers to take part in the policing function. The belief that officers are dealt with fairly would lead to acceptance of corrective actions and elicit positive attitudes towards the department. Further, resources should be allocated fairly according to the crime rate in the town to ensure that criminals do not move from one side of the railroad tracks to the other to commit a crime. Fair disciplinary actions should be taken to deter officers from engaging in a code of silence thereby undermining the whole process.

The response times would prove essential in the patrol resource allocation decisions. In Centervale, it takes ten minutes on average for an officer to respond to a call from dispatch on either side of the town. The response time should distinguish between emergency and nonemergency calls for service with the help of a priority system (Fagan et al., 2010). Additionally, the response time goals should determine the number of officers needed to meet the response time objectives. For instance, the response time goals for the southern part of the town would be set fairly high, and as such then fewer officers would be assigned to patrol such an area to meet this objective in comparison to the northern part. However, the department can modify the goals with any changes in policy.

The CPD assistant chief may also employ split patrols comprising of a reactive and proactive patrol units. As such, the proactive unit will take part in preventing action patrols while the reactive unit will answer all service calls (Fagan et al., 2010). Alternatively, the assistant chief may ask the units to switch roles or have the proactive units in directed patrol missions on a systematic basis. The assistant chief may also emphasize on two-man patrols in the south of the railroad tracks where 20 percent of the crime takes place while one-man patrols are conducted in the northern part. The one-man patrols would be useful in the crime-prone area because they have the advantage of doubling the number of patrols in the patrol force. They also make more arrests in addition to having fewer citizen complaints, as well as certain safety advantages.


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