Durham News

Durham City Council to consider consultant contract to analyze Police Department

The City Council plans to vote Monday on whether to seek an extensive analysis of the Durham Police Department’s staffing and operations.

The analysis, if approved, would address concerns raised about the Police Department, such as staffing levels and policing styles. Here is some information about the proposed contract.

Why is the city looking at Police Department staffing?

Last winter, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez asked for 15 new investigators and 56 new patrol officers as council considered the 2015-16 budget. The department had a “very difficult” time showing how more employees would be used and what difference they would make, City Manager Tom Bonfield said.

Instead, police and city officials sought a consultant to evaluate patrol and investigative functions.

In July the city hired Alexandria, Virginia-based nonprofit International Association of the Chiefs of Police. The $41,323 contract fell below the $50,000 threshold that requires City Council approval.

During the process, police officials recognized that for a little bit more money, the department could receive a lot more information, including a full analysis of staffing and deployment, Lopez said.

With Lopez retiring at the end of the year, Bonfield said, city officials thought it would worthwhile for “the new chief to have that on their desk when” the chief starts next spring.

The analysis, described as “a full operational study of the department,” will cost about $50,000 bringing the total cost of the contract up to $91,323.

The money will come from the Police Department’s budget.

What will the new scope cover?

The analysis, which could take up to four months, will evaluate 19 core functions, programs, practices and conditions, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police proposal.

Those areas include:

▪ Policing style and whether it best suits Durham’s population and crime conditions.

▪ The structure of the department and each unit.

▪ Projected staffing requirements and resource leveraging.

▪ Patrol practices, from community oriented and traditional methods, to report preparation, roll calls and traffic stops.

▪ Traffic services’ use of warning, citations and arrests.

▪ Range, quality and data-driven policing.

▪ Citizen complaint and internal affairs philosophy.

▪ Recruiting selection and promotion.

What will the analysis tell city officials about the Police Department?

Bonfield said they report will tell city officials how they are using existing resources, and what other deployment models exist. It will also indicate what additional staffing is needed and where.

“We want to know where we can be the most tactical and strategical with those officers,” he said. The report will also help city officials think about a longer term plan for future staffing decisions.

Next steps?

After the report is completed, it will go the city and police administrations.

“I’m sure everyone will want some time to review it,” Bonfield said.

Then as the city brings in a new chief and starts to pull together the next fiscal year’s budget, staffers will use the analysis to figure out how to move forward.

“We’ll just have to see what they say,” Bonfield said.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges


To review the report on the proposed Strategic Operational Analysis, go to http://bit.ly/policeanalysisproposal.