City staffers want to hire the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a police service organization, to assist the Bakersfield Police Department in creating a strategic plan to lower response times and deal with rising crime.
City Manager Alan Tandy said in his weekly General Information memorandum to the Mayor and the Bakersfield City Council that he and Police Chief Greg Williamson will recommend the council approve spending up to $100,000 to hire the IACP, at the Jan. 22 city council meeting.
"The IACP has a dedicated management studies team, which conducts a comprehensive review of Police Department operations and provides ongoing feedback and recommendations for improving procedures and services, such as response times," Tandy wrote in the memo.
Their decision was prompted by Vice Mayor Ken Weir's request last spring that the police department come up with a strategic plan, including a way to improve response times.
"I think there's a perception that our response times are lacking right now, and I think that's been going on for some time," Weir said. "I know the chief, and they've been working at reducing response times right now with the constraints they have. It just seems like we don't have a path or a formal plan to get where we want to go."
Williamson said BPD officers' average response times during August and September were affected in part by the number of calls received.
In August, the department received 11,235 calls for service citywide, and the average response time was 12 minutes, 17 seconds.
In September, the department received 10,564 calls for service citywide, or nearly 700 fewer, and the average response time improved by nearly half a minute, to 11 minutes, 53 seconds.
"We thought that would be a good use, to have some fresh eyes come in to see what we're doing and hopefully give us some additional direction and determine whether our staffing levels are appropriate, whether our response times are excessively high, or are there some other some projects that we should look at," Williamson said of hiring IACP for the four- to six-month study.
In June, the Bakersfield City Council approved expanding the police department by 10 sworn officers to 389 -- the largest complement in agency history.
At that time, BPD had just 338 officers on the street, and Williamson said adding 51 more would take the better part of a year.
An IACP spokeswoman did not respond to several requests for comment. The organization's website said it offers "technical assistance" to help departments "determine their level of accountability, community satisfaction, cost-effectiveness, compliance with professional standards and success in crime control."
City staffers will make their recommendation to the council as part of a mid-Fiscal Year update on the 2013-2014 budget.