Efficiency key for police chief in his first yearIn his first year as chief of police, Scott Edinger has taken strides to make his department more efficient and therefore have a greater presence in the community.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
In his first year as chief of police, Scott Edinger has taken strides to make his department more efficient and therefore have a greater presence in the community.
Edinger was appointed to the post on Jan. 12, 2012, and since then has used technology to give officers more time on the street to respond to an increased number of calls.
“It makes the job more efficient and a lot of these things were done to keep the officers out of the building and in their patrol cars,” Edinger said.
Although the statistics for 2012 are not compiled yet, the chief estimates a 10 percent increase in calls for service, up from about 27,500 to about 30,300.
The main way he has kept officers in their cars while on duty was the addition of the computer information system on mobile data terminals.
“It gives us access to the calls for service that come in through dispatch,” he said.
Officers can update entry information, write up reports and communicate with each other without leaving their patrol cars.
“It gives us an abundant amount of time, it’s much more efficient,” said Sgt. Justin Blinsky, one of 29 sworn officers in the department.
Officers can also now communicate through direct messaging or via email in the patrol cars.
The CIS system has been included in the department’s budget for next year. The cost is about $7,200 per year.
More technology went into effect on Wednesday as officers started to carry digital cameras and voice recorders.
JPD has had cameras in the past but with technology continuously evolving some officers have been challenged in using the equipment, Edinger said. The new cameras are more automated.
As for the voice recorders, they make it easier for officers. The chief said it’s easier for them to make a recording than take notes by hand in a dynamic environment.
Most of these technology costs have been covered by a variety of grants the department has received since Edinger has taken the helm of the department.
Calls for service have increased but the number of officers has not. With the same number of sworn-in officers since 1994 — 29 — Edinger has used North Dakota Department of Transportation grants to cover the cost for different enforcement programs in 2012.
The two programs were to increase seat belt use and deter drunken driving.
The chief said there will be increased saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints, paid for with more grants, in 2013.
“We’re trying to keep that presence in the street,” Edinger said. “DUIs are up and they’re a major focus in the state, especially with some of the accidents in the area.”
Last summer a crash involving a drunken driver in Stutsman County caused four fatalities.
Some officers are also receiving new responsibilities.
Two officers are in recently created positions called department resource officers. They will be trained as evidence custodians.
“There’s a lot less hands on from officers and there’s a few officers that will handle the evidence and make sure it gets analyzed when it needs to,” Edinger said.
Before, each officer kept track of when the evidence was processed, used in court and needed to be destroyed. Most of the work was done in one day each year, which led to a crowded storage room, he said.
Increased efficiency will continue in 2013 as the major task for the upcoming year will be the adoption of a new schedule rotation.
Effective Jan. 20, JPD officers will work in 12-hour shifts, and not be scheduled to work more than three days in a row, while receiving half the month off.
The City Council approved the new rotation for a one-year trial program.
“By doing this new schedule we’re hoping to limit overtime, limit (officers) switching shifts and hopefully if everything works out we’ll have more officers on any given shift,” Edinger said.
He also said Officer Nick Hardy will continue to serve as school resource officer, as the program has been going well since its inception three years ago.
Hardy travels between all Jamestown Public Schools and helps patrol the halls or deal with truant students.
“One of the best testaments to that is the school system agreed to pick up three-fourths of his shift,” Edinger said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org