Scheduled vs Actual

How many hours throughout the week does the number of officers scheduled match the number of officers actually working? Does it matter? Can you obtain that data?

“Why are there so many overtime slips?” Lieutenant Harris asks Sergeant Frank. “It’s been a rough month LT, remember my shift has been down two people and one more just got hurt last night.” Upon closer examination though, Lieutenant Harris realizes these aren’t overtime requests for fill-ins to replace missing cops, rather it’s holdovers as too many officers are working past their end-of-shift. The overtime budget is dwindling fast. “Why are they not going home on time?”, he asks himself.

Working past the end-of-shift is not unexpected, but how often that happens is a clear indicator that the schedule may be askew. Even after officers are done handling calls they’re still on the clock. Often officers are hurriedly trying to complete the stacked-up reports at the end of their shift, which only degrades the quality of those reports. Subpar reports end up getting returned to the officer for corrections, only adding to their already long to-do list. The impacts of a mismatched schedule can snowball and are far-reaching.

Agencies are surprised at how many officers they think are on the street versus the actual number working at any given hour. More importantly, though, agencies are often at a loss of how to obtain this information. Without this data, it’s impossible to know if the schedule is out of alignment.

The graph below, from Deploy PlusTM, shows that many hours throughout the week there are more officers on duty than expected. This agency is quickly burning through its overtime budget.

Many more officers on duty than expected throughout the week = lots of overtime

Examining the difference between how many officers are expected to be working and how many are actually working could be the key to fixing a dwindling overtime budget. The graph below shows that there is some leakage of overtime, but not as drastic as the previous example. It also illustrates that there are more officers being held over on Friday and Saturday than the rest of the week. This agency can quickly identify where the shift overlaps need to be addressed.

Just a couple officers are held over a few times throughout the week = less overtime

Throwing officers at a schedule is not going to fix this problem. The solution lies in the ability to determine which hours of the week are suffering and most importantly recalibrating the staffing numbers to match the demand. A well-aligned schedule and allocation create a balanced workload for all and when it’s time to go home……. you can go home.

Click here to see how the Deploy PlusTM platform from Corona Solutions identifies the pain points, recalibrates staffing, and helps save your overtime budget.

Counting Calls vs. Counting Time

The most valuable resource that patrol officers possess is time, so how should it be measured?

Many decisions about staffing, allocation, and scheduling are made primarily on the CFS (Calls for Service) counts, and if time spent is included it is usually a generalized number across all CFS events. You’ve likely read something like “the average CFS took 18:41 to complete”. This is a very broad brush to apply when looking at resource consumption, and won’t provide the data needed to match your resource to your demand.

The most valuable resource that patrol officers possess is time. Time to respond and handle calls when citizens need help. Time to proactively engage their community. Time to write reports and take care of the day-to-day business. Time to collect information and investigate. Time to attend training and gain the most recent skills and knowledge available. So, when it comes to measuring this most valuable resource, how should it be done?

Average number of hours spent per officer per year

Adding up the time spent on CFS may seem straightforward, but the actual resource consumption is more complicated. It is not just looking at the time elapsed from the time of arrival to the time the call is clear. What if multiple officers respond? What if officers return to the call later? Each CFS is not equal and should not be treated as such.

Take for example a shoplifting call at your local big box store. One officer can typically handle a shoplifting call in about 30 minutes. Now, let’s look at a disturbance call outside a bar in a crowded entertainment center of town. One officer is not sufficient for this call, rather four officers are needed and it will take much longer than 30 minutes, probably one hour or more, to handle. So, while each call gets one tally in the count column, the time spent is vastly different; 30 minutes compared to four hours (4 officers @ 1 hour each = 4 hours). Time should not be seen as linear, rather it should be viewed as stacked.

Correct measurement of consumed time on calls per unit.

What if officers make multiple trips to the same call? For example, they clear the call but need to speak with the parties again later. Each instance of work on the call needs to be calculated so the true demand can be captured. Measuring from the first on-scene to the last clear would greatly inflate the time spent on the call. In the sample below, the actual time spent on the call was less than 2 hours, yet the first arrival to the last clear adds up to over 5 hours and would be an inaccurate measurement of resource demand.

Click here to see how the Deploy PlusTM platform from Corona Solutions rigorously measures demand so the appropriate resources can be scheduled for each hour of each day.

Impacts of Attrition and Juggling the Work Left Behind

In recent years law enforcement is being asked to “do more with less,” and at the same time, more and more societal ills are falling to the police for solving. But, bandwidth is shrinking and the workload is expanding, stretching resources so thin that the slightest extra tension could collapse the entire system.

At the same time, policing is experiencing a mass exodus of seasoned officers, and few recruits are ready to step in to take their place. The institutional knowledge walking out the door is going to take years to rebuild. Recruiting woes were the topic of discussion amongst law enforcement leaders long before the current staffing crisis, and things just got worse.

The Deploy Plus™ platform from Corona Solutions is the right tool to balance the workload and buy back officer time. The Deploy™ web application helps find the best allocation and schedule to prevent burnout amongst officers and empowers quick adaptation as workload and personnel change.

Redistributed, more equitable and balanced workload

There are no simple or short resolutions to recruiting and training when it takes 18 – 24 months to put an officer in a car answering calls on their own. Even if agencies are fortunate enough to over-hire in anticipation of attrition rates, the line of recruits waiting to get in is far shorter than it used to be. And, while hiring practices and standards are being evaluated, adjusted, modified, and revised to get more diverse bodies in the door, the work left to do has not subsided.

High saturation levels per officer

Continuing to use overtime to fill shifts is not sustainable. Officers will burn out from constantly running call-to-call, no backup units will be there when needed, and the overtime budget will explode.

When you can’t add cops, the only way to buy back officer time is to maximize the efficiency of your deployment of officers. An evidence-based approach can redistribute the workload across the remaining staff which will be more equitable, safer, and economical.

Click here to learn how Deploy Plus can help.

How Many Officers Do You Need?

To successfully answer the question of how many officers you need is completely dependent upon first answering “to do what?”

This question is constantly posed to police chiefs and sheriffs across the country. Law enforcement leaders ask for more bodies, then the stakeholders limit the number or deny it all together. To successfully answer the question of how many officers you need is completely dependent upon first answering “to do what?”

The answer does not lay within a simple finite number, rather it is dependent upon the schedule employed. Minimum staffing levels will change and be impacted by the number of officers scheduled for each hour of the week. This requires the workload to be examined hourly while recognizing the different workload during different days of the week.

In making the request for additional personnel, many agencies compare themselves to others based on simple calculations like officer per capita, but if stakeholders don’t really see the pain points, no additional positions will be allotted. If the agency is getting by with the staff they have, then stakeholders will ask the department to continue operating a lean force.

What if leaders could specify the ‘bang-for-the-buck’ they’re asking for? Stakeholders, do you want 5-minute response time to priority calls at all hours? Then it will require an additional 7 officers.

Stakeholders, do you want officers to spend time engaging the public and furthering the community policing effort? Then it will require an additional 10 officers.

It is vital for agencies to illustrate exactly what the impact will be on police services in these current times of budget decreases, restrictions and hiring freezes. What if you could show stakeholders and community members that decreasing the patrol compliment by 10% will result in not only reduced services, but exactly when and by how much it will delay response to priority calls? Perhaps that delay isn’t something they’re willing to trade for the cost savings.

The ability to specify exactly when and what the additional dollars and positions will buy adds legitimacy to the request and improves the chances it will succeed. Agencies need data and evidence to show exactly when and where the pain points are currently or when and where they will be without adequate staffing.

To see how different schedule configurations can improve officer safety, watch the video “Scheduling for Officer Safety” at www.coronasolutions.com, and reach out to see how we can make this work for your agency.

There’s No Time to Waste

Reduced staffing, budget cuts, personnel shortages… these are all terms floating around police command staff meetings these days. The writing on the wall indicates that there will be no new funding allocated toward police in the near future. Any federal money poured into Community Policing won’t materialize for a few years. Next year’s budgets are being negotiated and set, which include hiring freezes and even sworn layoffs. Police have always dealt with the “do more with less” mantra, but that is more real now than ever.

So, how can police departments maximize efficiency with minimal cost? Some of those answers lie in technology. There have been great technological advances that have helped departments run leaner and more efficient, such as online reporting and virtual police response. When there is no evidence to collect, no witnesses to canvas and interview, and no threat to mitigate, these pieces of technology allow officers more time for the calls that require an on-scene presence.

Many police agencies have already deployed these technological advances and still find the amount of time needed to maintain service has exceeded their capacity. Random or disproportional staffing is not going to cut it. Police need to squeeze every ounce of efficiency from their patrol operations so they don’t have to sacrifice their level of service or the community’s expectations.

To accomplish this, agencies need to be agile in their ability to staff and deploy patrol operations. What worked last year no longer works, and COVID shutdowns put a wrinkle in determining how busy the streets are these days. The solution requires continually monitoring changes in workload, looking for seepage in workload, and finding a way to buy back officers’ time.

Enormous gains can be made by employing proportional staffing methods, which result in the appropriate number of staff scheduled each hour of each day proportionate to the workload for that hour and day.

When they’re unable to gain officers, time is the only commodity left that agencies can hope to gain. Now more than ever, police agencies know there is no time to waste.

Proportional staffing, smart schedules, and buying back officer time is possible with the technological and analytical advances employed by Corona Solutions. Contact us to help squeeze the most time from your patrol schedule.

Who Will Respond in the Meantime?

Over the last few decades, policing has evolved to be the catchall for societal ills that were previously not considered to be law enforcement related. The amount of police resources spent on non-criminal activity has been creeping up over the years, requiring agencies to take on more responsibility and driving decisions regarding enforcement directives. On May 25, 2020, a historic fracture occurred in the direction policing will take in the future. How policing will look moving forward remains to be seen. Demands appear to center around redirecting response of non-criminal events to entities other than the police.

If police will no longer be responsible for dealing with non-criminal activity, you won’t find many police agencies complain, but diverting that response is going to be like turning a cruise ship….. s l o w!

In the rush to defund police, many city leaders are becoming aware that there are no viable solutions for not having police services today. The future may see a host of community-based teams and trained personnel equipped to respond to non-criminal calls. We can all hope, right? In the meantime, it will likely continue to fall on police agencies to handle these non-criminal situations. But, how do agencies deliver these services whilst their budgets come under scrutiny and face cuts?

For police agencies to survive these cuts, they must quantify the resources required to respond to non-criminal calls, not only to protect their fragile budgets, but also to provide solid data for the next corp stepping up to take on that responsibility. How many co-responders, licensed social workers and therapists will communities need to hire? What days should they work? What hours should they work? Leaders will turn to police departments, those that have handled these crises, for answers. The smart thing for agencies to do right now is to start quantifying the services they provide the community and justifying the resources they currently need to defend their budget dollars.

Workload analyses consistently reveal that a large volume of patrol resources (including the number of officers that respond to calls, time spent by each officer on the calls, and ancillary patrol costs) are spent on non-criminal activities. Being homeless, transient or mentally ill is not a crime. However, calls that revolve around these circumstances are where the bulk of patrol resources continue being consumed. In the current era of policing, resource justification needs to be evidence-based. Police agencies need data to justify how much it costs in salary, benefits, equipment, and the like for non-criminal response. There’s a treasure trove of information that agencies can harness to justify the need for resources and help tell their stakeholders “don’t be so quick to cut our budget or here are the services we will no longer have the capacity to provide.”

With a detailed account of the resources they expend on non-criminal activity, police agencies can preserve budget dollars. Agencies can show stakeholders, including government leaders and the community, exactly what services, and how much of those services, their budget dollars are buying. If police agencies can’t justify how they are spending the money, the community is unlikely to give them any. In the below sample, the police agency can clearly illustrate how many non-criminal calls, how many officers responded to the calls, how much time each officer spent on the scene, and how much cumulative time was consumed (over 6,700 hours!) on just three non-criminal activities.

Sample analysis from Deploy Plus Report

While the future of policing is being hashed out amongst community leaders, there are still non-criminal events that need to be dealt with. The only entity currently able to handle these are the police. Presently there are no teams of trained personnel at the ready the next time a call is received about the person walking in and out of traffic talking to themself or the homeless camp that popped up behind a business overnight. Those calls will still land with the nearest police agency and, hopefully, there will be an available officer to send.

Deploy Plus by Corona Solutions easily and economically provides agencies with the tools to show stakeholders the exact services their budget dollars are buying. More importantly, it illustrates what services will be lost to budget cuts. Who will respond then?