The Matrix Consulting Group (MCG), after over a year of study, presented the most comprehensive report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Coral Gables Police Department in the history of the City at the December 11th Commission meeting. Soon after Mayor Jim Cason took office in 2011, he toured City departments to review operations, and asked the City Manager if the police department, as the largest department in the City comprising 1/3 of the City’s workforce with 255 positions and an annual budget of approximately $36.3 million, was maximizing its efficiency and effectiveness. As a result, City Manager Pat Salerno engaged the services of MCG, a leading nationally-recognized law enforcement consulting firm that has worked with over 200 police departments in 27 states spanning small towns to large cities including such communities as Los Angeles, Jacksonville, San Antonio and Las Vegas.
Project Scope and Methodology
MCG collected comprehensive data for all Coral Gables police functions to determine current level of service, objectives, workloads, operational management, and departmental structure to determine if resources are effectively managed in terms of deployment, scheduling, work planning and accountability systems. In particular, MCG reviewed uniform patrol staffing to analyze their availability and use of time, as well as how the police detectives investigate and manage cases.
Key Findings and Recommendations
MCG found that the Coral Gables Police Department provides high levels of service to the community. The department is recognized nationally as an accredited agency, has very low response times to high priority calls, and its investigative efforts are generally effective. Nevertheless the department does not provide a number of its key services efficiently or effectively, specifically:
• The scheduling of personnel is not cost effective;
• The department needs to be more proactive than reactive;
•The department needs more analytical monitoring of services and performance so that management can understand service issues; and
•The department needs to reorganize its structure.
Uniform Patrol – In 2008, the City implemented a 10 hour shift schedule, which was a change from an 8 hour shift schedule for Uniform Patrol. Although the 10 hour shift was supported by the police union (Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7, Inc.), MCG determined that “the current 10 hour shift is inefficient and not cost effective,” noting that officers in other areas had to be pulled to support Uniform Patrol, that “excessive numbers of officers are deployed compared to work requirements” and that “since 2008, the City would have been better served with a different schedule than the 10-hour shift.” Officers spend about 85% of time waiting to respond to calls, which is an extraordinarily high amount of time, especially because the calls for assistance average only 2 calls per hour Citywide. Therefore, MCG recommends that the department implement 12 hour shifts or return to 8 hour shifts, as “shift schedules that are not divisible into 24 hours in a day suffer from cost inefficiencies.” A change in the shift schedule would allow current deployments to be achieved with fewer individuals and allow positions to be redeployed to priority proactive uses.
Criminal Investigations – MCG also found that cases are taking too long to be assigned to detectives, caseloads are low, and the City has poor case tracking methods and poor accountability mechanisms to track performance.
New Proactive Capabilities – To address the inefficient workloads and to allow the department to be more effective, MCG recommends that instead of eliminating positions, officers be reallocated to areas of greater need. Currently the City does not have adequate resources to proactively focus on emerging criminal issues. Having a team that can be used flexibly to help Uniform Patrol determine where issues exist that require a higher level of police presence “is an established approach in law enforcement” according to MCG. As a result, 13 reallocated positions would comprise two new Strategic Initiative Teams within the Uniform Patrol Division to proactively focus staffing on priority issues in the community, and eight reallocated positions would be assigned to a new Strategic Investigations Unit within the Criminal Investigations Division to address a variety of proactive special investigations. By restructuring, the department can create these much needed special units at no additional cost to the City; otherwise the City would incur an additional $3 million annually to staff these units.
The study, which was well received by the City Commission, can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.