LETTER: Chief clarifies some points in police coverage
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 4:47 AM
Thank you to Mr. Deters for his letter to the editor in regards to the police issues. I send this letter, not to be adversarial but for clarification and to be informational.
The Spring Grove Police Department did an unscientific examination of the working schedule in an effort to maximize or get "more bang for the buck."
The analysis showed that a Spring Grove police officer was on duty 92 percent of the time when a citizen called and needed the services of the department, that was with two full-time officers.
There was not 24-hour coverage. But there were, at least two days a week, where safety efforts were centered at or near the school at the busiest times of the day.
Although I don't believe that this was the focus of Mr. Deters letter, the past school boards and school administration have always had safety as one of their primary concerns.
In the past three years or so, and as recently as a couple of weeks ago, school administration met with fire officials and police staff to review and discuss the critical incident and evacuation plan.
These same officials also have had other meetings to address daily changing concerns in the way the school functions and to make sure that we all are using the best procedures to handle those situations, in an attempt to prevent a catastrophic situation from occurring.
And we should agree, based on other news reports, that a full-time officer inside the school on a full-time basis would only minimize the effects of the situation; and the probability of stopping it completely or stopping the incident before its starts are relatively low.
The suggestion was made to place an empty patrol car near the school during school hours.
Research has shown that only drivers unfamiliar or just passing through the area would be affected and slow down. It would only take about 30 minutes for the word to circulate that the patrol car is unmanned and then the effectiveness would be gone.
One issue for clarification, the police do focus our attention on the areas where the people are.
Additionally, there are residents that live near the carwash and the grain elevator that have expressed their concerns about speeds coming into town from all directions, and the police department focus on those areas as they are a continual problem.
It is also arguable that if the speed of a vehicle is slowed down at the entry of the city, they will or are more likely to maintain their speed throughout the city.
The police patrol all city streets and avenues not just the carwash or grain elevator.
It's no different than the issuance of a parking ticket around the school during an athletic event. If there is a need for the police to be there, they will make every effort to be there.
Mr. Deters has picked up on a very good point, when he stated that since hours worked are spent working in the evening, more calls are received in the evening.
If you have read the police blotter in the past couple of months, you see the police department receives calls at all hours of the day. I have always contended that there are police type issues that are not reported, but if a citizen sees a police vehicle driving on their street, they would be more inclined to call.
I would like to make a couple of points in closing my letter, Mr. Deters has made valid points and I do not minimize his concerns, and I thank him for sharing them.
One fact to remember, in 2001 the police department had three full-time officers; they provided 7-day-a-week, 20-hour-day coverage.
The true reality is that Spring Grove has never had a 24-hour, full-time police department.
Currently, there is one full-time officer who puts in from 450 to 500 hours of unpaid or uncompensated overtime every year.
It should not be expected that one or two officers would provide 24-hour service without some type of compensation.
There is no other job or profession that I can think of that requires a person to be available 24/7 without staff or compensation, and I also do not know of anyone who currently works under those conditions.
The police department has been told repeatedly that the citizens of Spring Grove do not want additional officers nor do they want to pay for additional officers.
If that statement is true, the only outcome to be achieved is that citizens have to expect a reduction in service or longer wait times.
If the citizens of Spring Grove want something different, they need to contact the members of the city council and inform them that they are willing and want something different when it comes to the number of staff of the police department.
Thanks again to Mr. Deters, it was a well-written letter, and I appreciate his thoughts.
Chief Paul Folz