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California Department Looking At Reorganizing Beats

California Department Looking At Reorganizing Beats

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San Jose Mercury News via YellowBrix

January 13, 2011

SAN RAMON — San Ramon’s police department is looking at reorganizing its beat structure to help deal with staffing shortages.

A study by the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training found the three-and-half year-old department could use six more patrol officers to help with understaffed shifts. There are 28 officers and corporals assigned to patrol now, according to the department.

The commission would also like to see San Ramon increase its command staff by adding an additional captain and three lieutenants as soon as practical. The department currently has one captain and two lieutenants. The lieutenants are due to retire in the next two years.

According to the POST report, having the additional command staff could be critical in emergencies and would help with succession planning in the department’s leadership. The report also recommended the pay differential of 10 percent between the sergeant and lieutenant and captain jobs to be bumped up to at least 15 percent to motivate qualified officers to seek promotions.

The POST report, which was presented to the city council Tuesday, was not a shocker for Police Chief Scott Holder. He said the consultant’s findings reflected what the department already knew. Holder said modifying the beat schedule will help.

Right now there are six patrol teams, made up of four to five officers each, that work 12.5-hour days three times a week. The proposed structure change would have three of those teams working 9.5-hour-days four times a week and two teams on the existing schedule. The change would eliminate the need for a sixth team, freeing up three positions that could be reclassified for three additional lieutenants the POST consultant recommended.

The change could increase patrol staffing by 28 percent and decrease overtime by 14 percent, said Holder.

Due to the current economy, the department looked at its operations to see what could be changed to help address the staffing issue, said San Ramon Police Captain Joe Gorton.

“In good times we would have added positions,” he said.

The department is not like those in Oakland and Antioch, which have had to recently layoff officers to deal with budget problems.

None of the changes have been approved yet, said Mayor Abram Wilson. The changes Holder is proposing will be analyzed and then approved by the council at a later date.

The POST consultant report for the most part was glowing one, Holder said. The report indicated San Ramon’s police department is a model agency when it comes its training programs, volunteer programs and community-oriented policing.

“We’re doing a great job,” Holder said. “We just need to make some changes.”

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