Law enforcement staffing at center of upcoming study backed by police chief

Are more armed officers the answer to combating a rise in crime, particularly among the city’s unhoused population? The city is about to find out.

The call for more police to serve the city has gone out loud and clear from residents and business owners for months. But are more armed officers the answer to combating a rise in crime, particularly among the city’s unhoused population? The city is about to find out.

Driving the news: Last week, the Palm Springs City Council approved going out to bid for a police department staffing study.

  • The study will analyze the past five years of data from the department to determine the staffing needs for the Palm Springs Police Department.
     
  • Beyond looking at data, the contractor hired to run the study will also interview elected officials and stakeholders.
     
  • The result will be specific requests city staff and Police Chief Andy Mills bring to the City Council.

Bigger picture: The recommendations should be comprehensive, addressing not just staffing, but training, department policies, and information technology improvements.

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Forward thinking: One of the focuses of the study will be on alternate methods to policing the community beyond sworn officers.

  • Mills said that it’s all about figuring out the most efficient use of an officer’s time, and whether some calls simply don’t require armed officers.
     
  • “I want the community to know that we are objective and we want to provide the best service possible in keeping with the highest traditions of Palm Springs,” Mills said last week.

Why it matters: The default request from government agencies is almost always “more staff.” But Mills and his leadership team have maintained making decisions based on data and moving towards a “neighborhood policing and problem-solving model” works best.

Next steps: Elected officials are eager to see results of the report and begin implementing recommendations. Speaking during last week’s Council meeting, they voiced strong support for the approach Mills is taking less than a year into the job.

  • “I’m glad that we as a Council are investing in these things, that we’re not just saying that we need more police, and that there’s balance” — Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner

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