Consultant to deliver news on police workload
[St. Petersburg]

Leanora Minai
January 31, 2001, Wednesday
Copyright 2001 Times Publishing Company
St. Petersburg Times
January 31, 2001, Wednesday

(ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.) -- A consultant who assessed police officers' workload will recommend Thursday whether the city should increase its budget for more patrol officers.

The long-anticipated report by Peter Bellmio is the highlight of a Police Department retreat Thursday at the Bayfront Center downtown.

Bellmio's findings, even in rough draft, will not be available until Thursday morning, police Chief Goliath Davis III said Tuesday.

Davis said he does not know what Bellmio will recommend. He deliberately has not been briefed on the report in an effort to keep an open mind, he said.

Bellmio, who has examined staffing at police departments from Los Angeles to Hartford, Conn., could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Davis invited candidates for mayor and City Council to the presentation, which begins at 8:30 a.m.

After Bellmio's remarks and questions from the audience, police officials and residents will continue with the remaining retreat agenda, which includes brainstorming on staffing, recruiting and communications.

"We're committed to the process of continuous improvement," Davis said. "We're always evaluating ourselves, our delivery of services and our performance to ensure we consistently and continuously improve."

This is Davis' fourth goal-setting gathering since he was appointed chief in 1997.

Davis invites residents, officers, and union and community leaders to discuss proposals for staffing and services. Davis sits in the back of the room while participants talk about changes for the department.

"I don't have any influence on what's said," Davis said.

After the retreat, a list of goals is taken back to the Police Department for review and implementation.

After the last retreat, in September, officers started a few new services - investigating minor car accidents and writing reports on domestic arguments.

Over the past seven months, Bellmio has visited the city and used computer programs to crunch numbers. He has determined the busiest times of day for calls and compared his data with residents' requests for service and patrol officers' schedules.

Bellmio studied patrol staffing in St. Petersburg after the 1996 civil disturbances. During that yearlong review, Bellmio found that most St. Petersburg patrol officers spent nearly half their shifts working on administrative tasks such as filling out reports and conducting field interviews.

Only a third of an officer's time was spent responding to emergency calls, and about 15 percent of an officer's shift consisted of discretionary time in which they were free to work on individual projects.

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