Hire Additional Police Officers, Report Recommends

Additional sworn officers and civilian personnel are necessary to balance the Royal Oak Police Department, according to an outside study. The cost would be $1 million, police chief says.

Royal Oak city commissioners sorted through a report Monday that was ordered last summer that recommends adding sworn officers and personnel to the  at a cost of $1 miillion.

The Police Operations Analysis, a report prepared by  International City/County Management Association (ICMA), a nonprofit public safety consultant, used data analysis, interviews, focus groups, document reviews and observations to come up with its recommendations.

Why the study?

The outside study was ordered last summer as a part of the 2011-2012 city budget.  "The police and fire departments are on the edge of failure," City Manager Don Johnson wrote at the time in a memo to city commissioners.

Public safety services dominate the Royal Oak budget: Sixty-six percent of the general fund is spent on police, fire and emergency medical services, according to Johnson.

"An outsider...might think we have sacrificed all other services to keep police and fire untouched," Johnson wrote last summer. Not true, according to the city manager. Total public safety personnel has fallen from 177 to 133 since 2006—a 25 percent decrease.

, Johnson reminded commissioners the 2011-12 budget plan called for an outside study of Royal Oak's public safety operations. Johnson recommended ICMA conduct a study to include an analysis of the service and workload of the police and fire departments with "a focus on how to deliver the services in the most cost effective manner."

Chief approves of analysis

The police department is a “lean organization,” according to the ICMA report.  The low crime rate Royal Oak enjoys when compared with cities of similar population size is not sustainable in the long term with current organizational structure and level of staffing, the report stated.

Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said he was pleased with the report overall and agrees with the need for increased staffing.

The Royal Oak Police Department staffing levels are down about 40 percent since 2003 because of city budget cuts, he said. Currently, the department has 66 sworn officers and 12 civilian staff members. Even if the city did hire the recommended staff members in the report, the police department still wouldn’t be where it was in 2003, O’Donohue said.

“The economic problems in Royal Oak are real and they are serious,” he said.

The IMCA report recommends adding a deputy chief, a lieutenant, two sergeants and eight officers. The report also recommends adding 8.5 civilian employees.

O’Donohue said the recommendations for sworn officers in the report would cost the city about $1 million.

“(The chief) walked us through the major items of the report,” said Don Johnson, city manager. “Some of the items require more financial or legal research.”

“The work session was more academic than institutional,” said Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Capello.  No action was taken.

The commissioners will meet again at 6 pm. March 12 for follow-up.

ICMA recommendations

As a result of on-site visits and data assessments, the 149-page ICMA recommends the following:

  • Adding personnel: The police department is understaffed, according to the report, which recommends adding a deputy chief, a lieutenant, two sergeants and eight officers. The report also recommends adding 8.5 civilian employees.
  • Restructuring: ICMA recommends dividing the department into two divisions: investigations/administration and patrol operations. A deputy chief would manage each.
  • Central Business District (CBD) enforcement unit: A special unit with one sergeant and four police officers responding to CBD conditions is recommended. The unit would "relieve the burden on patrol officers," according to McCabe.
  • Directed Patrol Unit: The report recommends bringing back the Directed Patrol Unit "to respond to community crime, traffic, and disorder concerns in a proactive fashion." 
  • Additional detectives needed: ICMA's report recommends increasing the number of detectives in the investigations unit by two.
  • Civilian employees: The report recommends employing civilians for desk officer and property officer positions.


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