Research

How to fix a Staffing Shortage

In 1994 the POA updated the Police Charter and added Staffing Levels. Very smart decision by there association.

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In 1994 the Police Staffing legislation was proposed to the Board of Supervisors.  The Board of Supervisors voted on the Police Staffing legislation.  The Board of Supervisors voted 9 in favor and 2 against with the majority in favor Police Staffing Proposition D was placed on the ballot for the San Francisco Voters to vote on. Police Staffing Proposition D passed by majority vote of the San Francisco voters.

POLICE STAFFING. The police force of the City and County shall at all times consist of not fewer than 1,971 full duty sworn officers. The staffing level of the Police Department shall be maintained with a minimum of 1,971 full duty sworn officers thereafter. That figure may be adjusted pursuant to Section 16.123.

All officers and employees of the City and County are directed to take all acts necessary to implement the provisions of this section. The Board of Supervisors is empowered to adopt ordinances necessary to effectuate the purpose of this section including but not limited to ordinances regulating the scheduling of police training cases.

Further, the Commission shall initiate an annual review to civilianize as many positions as possible to maximize police presence in the communities and submit that report to the Board of Supervisors annually for review and approval.

The number of full duty sworn officers in the Police Department dedicated to neighborhood policing and patrol for fiscal year 1993-1994 shall not be reduced in future years, and all new full duty sworn officers authorized for the Police Department shall also be dedicated to neighborhood community policing, patrol and investigations.

Maintaining a optimal level of staffing always seems to be problem.  It’s a dangerous balance of cost savings and public safety.  But if the scale is tipped to far towards cost savings not only does it effect public safety but it also effects the employees by overworking them to fill vacant positions.  Please read this excerpt from an article depicting the cost savings.

Staffing and overcrowding issues at the new jail, which houses The City’s long-term prisoners, became such an issue that an older facility was reopened on the same property in October. Sheriffs deputies have been putting in almost 1,500 hours of overtime per week, sometimes working 16-hour days, prompting the Board of Supervisors to call for the budget analyst’s report.

Overtime staffing is about 35 percent cheaper than hiring more sworn personnel because of mandatory fringe benefits, the report found, but the facility should be staffed with permanent personnel nonetheless, “In order to avoid staff fatigue and to ensure that the facility is operated safely.” – SF Examiner

In a 1999-2000 Civil Grand Jury Report, they express the dangers of mandatory forced overtime on employees.

Shortage of Sheriff’s Department Staff In spite of annual increases in funded positions from 818 in Fiscal Year (FY) 1997-1998 to 845 in FY1998-1999 and 897 in FY1999-2000, the Sheriff’s Department reports that it has a shortage of deputies in the jails. The department’s shortage of staff has apparently resulted in a departmental overtime budget that will be exceeded by $4.9 million in FY 1999-2000 because deputies have been assigned mandatory overtime shifts. Workers’ compensation claims will also cause the department’s budget to be exceeded by 40 percent, with at least $1,370,493 to be paid in claims for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. A pattern of increased overtime spending by the department is beginning to appear. The November 19, 1999 Controller’s Audit of the Sheriff’s Department stated that overtime spending for jail staffing increased by more than $650,000, or almost 60 percent, over the previous two fiscal years, 1997-98 and 1998-99. This pattern benefits no one. As the Controller’s Audit noted, “[i]n addition to its impact on the budget of the Sheriff’s Department, prolonged overtime by staff members may lead to fatigue and diminished attentiveness, conditions that can endanger the safety of the staff, jail inmates, and the public.” – SF Civil Grand Jury

In 2015, San Francisco Board of Supervisors vote 6-5 to boost police officers beyond charter mandate.

The City is slated to fund eight police academy classes — that includes $11 million for the first five classes next fiscal year — to hire some 400 new police officers.  The two-year hiring plan is expected to bring San Francisco in compliance with the 1994-voter mandated staffing level of 1,971, a level last met in 2009.  The City must go beyond the mandate, setting a goal of more than 2,200 officers, based on population growth since 1994.  While the resolution isn’t a mandate, it does commit the board politically to funding the effort.  “That the board commits to fully funding police academy classes to exceed this goal of 2,200 full duty sworn officers,” the resolution states. – SF Examiner

In a 2015-2016 Civil Grand Jury Report, they express the overtime continues to contribute to fatigue and stress, they learned it is primarily due to the lack of funding for requisitions over the past four years.

Consistent with the findings of the 2013-­2014 Civil Grand Jury in its report titled “Inquiry into the Programs and Operations of the San Francisco Jails,” the custody division continues to rely on a mandatory overtime policy to meet the needs of staffing 24 ­hour shifts at five jail locations. While closure of San Francisco County Jail #3 and the associated reassignment of staff to other facilities might have eased the overtime problems, the Controller’s Six Month Budget Status Report for FY 2015­-16 projected total overtime pay of $17.1 million compared with $14.8 million in FY 2014-­15 and $10.5 million in FY 2013-­14. We learned that this is primarily due to the lack of funding for requisitions over the past four years. Some City officials observed it is less expensive to pay for overtime than to fund the 40 positions that have been requested. – SF Civil Grand Jury

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to explore the idea of adding a Sheriff’s Staffing to the City Charter?

 

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