At its regular meeting on June 14, Alexandria City Council received the results of a study commissioned by the City to assess police patrol and investigations staffing levels. The study, conducted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), recommends a number of adjustments to achieve optimal staffing levels.
Overall, IACP concluded that the Alexandria Police Department is “a well-run agency, with conscientious staff at all levels and in all categories,” which “provides a high-quality service that residents greatly appreciate.” Changes suggested by the study authors are designed to improve public safety outcomes rather than correct deficiencies.
The study recommends re-emphasizing community policing and reducing vacancies by moving more officers to neighborhood beats and augmenting existing positions. This could be accomplished by adding approximately three patrol officers and two traffic officers per shift, and by shifting some specialized positions to general patrol. Based on the total number of shifts, this would add 18 new patrol officers and five new traffic officers. The study also recommends efficiency improvements in the investigations division, while maintaining current staffing levels.
“While Alexandria continues to experience historic crime lows, we are constantly striving to improve,” said Police Chief Earl L. Cook. “Staffing adjustments, combined with a renewed commitment to community policing, can help reduce crime even further.”
The study results are the first step in a long-term police staffing plan, which will involve input from internal and external stakeholders, analysis during the City’s annual budget processes, and ultimately policy decisions by City Council.
“The results of this independent evaluation will be very helpful as we develop future year budgets,” said City Manager Mark B. Jinks. “We want to make data-driven decisions about how to keep our community safe and support our law enforcement personnel.”
The IACP carefully reviewed the total hours available from all police officers, accounting for training, time off, injury, and illness. The researchers compared this availability to calls for service, motor vehicle crashes, investigations caseload, and other demands. Where demand outpaced available resources, the study recommended adjustments. In particular, the IACP recommends making more officer time available to proactively engage with residents and businesses beyond responding to calls for service.
The complete study is available online.