The typical police officer spends about 47 percent of the workday responding to incidents, Police Chief Ernest Brown said Monday while presenting a summary of his department workload analysis.
That leaves a little more than half the day to be used for other activities, such as training and proactive police work, he said.
“The workload analysis is not intended to suggest that we have way too many officers,” he said. “It’s a way to look at how we allocate officers and how we can best use the discretionary time we do have.”
Discretionary time, he clarified, is not the same as free time. Rather, it’s time that officers can spend patrolling for traffic violations, for example, or working through law enforcement problem solving exercises.
“I’m not suggesting (patrol officers) are not using their time wisely,” Brown said. “The problem we have is that Darien simply doesn’t have that level of criminal activity.”
And while it’s easy to measure crime, there’s no way to measure the crimes that police prevent, he said.
Traffic enforcement, he said, is a huge deterrent to other types of crime simply because potential criminals driving through Darien will see a visible police presence. But it’s impossible to know if a bad guy decided to act elsewhere because he saw several police cars around town.
Overall, Brown’s report said the DU-COMM dispatch center catalogued 14,170 events for Darien from May through December 2011, the eight-month period last year after the city switched to the co-op. DU-COMM logs an event any time someone makes a 9-1-1 call or a Darien police officer pursues an incident.
Of those events, 62.3 percent required patrol officer response.
DU-COMM received the most 9-1-1 calls from Darien residents during the police department’s third shift, which runs from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Police officers initiated an event at the highest rate during the first shift, which runs from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Activity was evenly split between 9-1-1 calls and police-initiated events during the middle shift.
“The question that begs is whether staffing all three shifts at the same level is counterintuitive when you have a timeframe where you go nearly flat,” Brown said.
The amount of activity varied by month, as well, with July being the busiest month, the report showed.
The report Brown shared at Monday’s is just a capsule of the larger analysis, he said. The full analysis will be presented at an upcoming meeting.