Smart ways to serve and protect

Maximizing resources is the new pattern in law enforcement

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Coping with limited resources means different things to different people. Say you're running a household and you have a family to feed. If you can't afford steak, you use hamburger.

Now say you're running a law enforcement agency, such as the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. It delivers a high level of service that has to be maintained, sometimes in spite of available resources. The citizens whom officers protect, so to speak, still want steak.

For Sheriff Ronnie Strength, part of the answer lies in working smarter. So earlier this month, deputies started taking some minor criminal reports by telephone instead of meeting with complainants in person.

It's a clever idea, and its benefits are obvious.

Say someone stole your bicycle or broke one of your home's windows trying to break in. Under old procedures, you would be visited at the scene of the crime by a police officer -- an officer whose time, let's face it, would be better spent patrolling the streets to thwart bigger crimes, especially burglaries.

Now, dispatchers answering complainants' calls will determine whether each incident rises to the level of summoning a deputy. Simple thefts, criminal trespasses and other smaller infractions will be transferred to "light-duty" deputies who take the complaints by phone. If it turns out to be something more serious, the deputy will kick the call back to dispatch, who will arrange to send an officer to the scene.

Part of the beauty of this is its flexibility. These light-duty officers are working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shifts now, but if they're more urgently needed to support patrol deputies at night, the shifts can be changed simply. The program will get re-evaluated every few weeks to make any needed tweaks.

Most importantly, though, this new arrangement puts more deputies on the street to tackle more serious crimes.

Similar programs are being used in bigger cities such as San Diego and Minneapolis, and in suburban Baltimore, but it's becoming the way of the law enforcement world lately -- coming up with clever ways to maximize resources.

The mayor of a township in New Jersey recently rehired two retired police officers to fill similar public safety roles as civilians, instead of as uniformed officers. That saves money on salaries, health benefits and pensions.

Municipalities around Dayton, Ohio, are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year after recently signing contracts with a regional dispatch center to handle all the towns' police and fire calls.

And more police departments nationwide have been relying on civilian volunteers to handle administrative duties, manpower support at special events and even limited patrols in marked police cruisers.

Every law enforcement agency, of course, will have different solutions because they all have subtly different issues to grapple with. But the Richmond County Sheriff's Office should be encouraged to keep finding smarter ways to maximize its resources to maintain or even exceed its current level of excellence.

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jrbfromga
448
Points
jrbfromga 03/22/11 - 10:01 pm
0
0
Current level of excellence?
Unpublished

Current level of excellence? Although I know many members of RCSD and agree that they are individually doing a great job, part of the problem with Augusta/Richmond County is the pervasive affect of drugs, namely crack and meth, and the accompanying criminal mentality that accompanies them. There are entire sections of the city/county where the primary source of income is either public assistance or criminal activity. The drug use is supported by public assistance, and when that runs out the desire for drugs incites criminal activity. The problem is bigger than RCSD, but RCSD can do more.

Riverman1
94304
Points
Riverman1 03/22/11 - 10:12 pm
0
0
But where is the theatre? We

But where is the theatre? We could do away with baseball umpires, too, but we all love the drama of the manager taking on the ump. We want that cop in uniform driving a cruiser with blue lights flashing to show up.

He gets out of the vehicle about 9 ft tall with a bazooka on his hip, a billy club big as a baseball bat, radio cracking out that unintellgible secret cackle and shoes glistening like glass. He separates the parties. Gets firm, threatens to take somebody to jail and tells them all to calm down. He gets in the guy's face with that big hatbill touching him and says if he has to come back again that night, he's going to be charged with a crime that gives him at least 20 years in jail. The woman smiles while she gloats. Justice has been served...the American way. We're going to miss these plays.

usapatriot
0
Points
usapatriot 03/22/11 - 11:14 pm
0
0
jrb, feel free to become a

jrb, feel free to become a deputy. work your way up and make the changes . or better yet, become a politician.

personally, I can't seem to believe this is a new idea. If someone just came up with this, I've been missing out on a profitable consulting business.

go for it. it seems like a good idea to let officers concentrate on more important matters.

everyone who has had something happen to their property thinks it is of utmost importance, but face the facts. if the perp is not around, it can be handled differently. maybe the time the patrolman doesn't spend with you could be the time the perp gets caught elsewhere.

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 03/23/11 - 05:14 am
0
0
Defund the DDA and other

Defund the DDA and other useless boards like it and divert the cash to the Sheriff. Easy math folks.

Brad

corgimom
38760
Points
corgimom 03/23/11 - 05:50 am
0
0
Or better yet, fully fund the

Or better yet, fully fund the RCSO and stop giving money away on useless things- like studies for a baseball stadium.

That .4% growth occurred for REASONS.

Brad Owens
4922
Points
Brad Owens 03/23/11 - 06:10 am
0
0
Exactly corgimom, Stop

Exactly corgimom,

Stop spending money on wants until the needs have been met.

NEEDS vs WANTS during a period of low revenues = cuts

Austerity is the new fad amongst giverments these days. Of course Augusta is way behind the times as usual.

Brad

terminusmundi
6
Points
terminusmundi 03/23/11 - 09:42 am
0
0
I actually agree with Mr.

I actually agree with Mr. Owens on this one. A town is a good place to live in if its essentials are good. Good roads, good police, good schools, good neighborhoods... how do you think towns develop in the first place? People will be encouraged to go downtown not if there is a baseball stadium, but if they feel safe going downtown. How hard could this be for people to understand?

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 03/23/11 - 09:45 am
0
0
Unfortunately the whiners and
Unpublished

Unfortunately the whiners and criers have a very big lobby. Don't look for necessary spending cuts on frivolous projects.

dichotomy
37643
Points
dichotomy 03/23/11 - 11:35 am
0
0
Blame our commissioners for

Blame our commissioners for this one. We pay plenty enough taxes to maintain a fine sheriffs department. But our commissioners waste the money hiring criminals for city workers, poorly managing department heads and other employees and then having to pay them off settling lawsuits, and paying for multiple studies in half million dollar chunks to get a useless "plan" they they know we can't afford to do in the first place and probably wouldn't work if we could. None of their "plans" have worked so far. The commissioners blackmail each other to insure all of our tax money either goes to Reynolds St. or Laney Walker, and the things that they cannot come to a blackmail agreement on they hire someone to do a "study". And then they tell us there isn't enough left to have a fully funded sheriff's department. Here is a plan. STOP SPENDING ON EVERYTHING except for police, fire, water, garbage, and roads. No more rehab projects, no more TEE centers, no more taxpayer money to private charities, no baseball stadiums, no more welfare programs, no more spending unless it's police, fire, garbage, water, or roads. You can't be spending money on "progress" in the FUTURE when you are too incompetent to manage and pay for the PRESENT.

Riverman1
94304
Points
Riverman1 03/23/11 - 11:40 am
0
0
A decreasing tax paying

A decreasing tax paying population is what the census showed. When taxpayers are fewer, decreased services must follow. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Lori Davis
1006
Points
Lori Davis 03/23/11 - 03:44 pm
0
0
When the Sheriff's office

When the Sheriff's office loses half a million in funding and declares that they would not be impacted by this cut, it makes one wonder what the half a million was used for in the first place.

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