According to a source I have, I hear the state is doing an assessment of the Hoboken Police Department. In the wake of the current budget crisis that is a good thing provided it is comprehensive, independent and shared for the council and public to see.
I searched the web for independent audits of Police Departments to get an example of a thorough report and I found one with the City of Independence Missouri. The 176-page report goes through every aspect of police administration, especially staffing in great detail. The results are published on the City’s web site as a shining example of transparency in government.
For comparison’s sake, in the year 2000 Independence Missouri had a population of 113,223 and is 78.5 sq mi . Hoboken had a population of 38,577 in year 2000 and 1.3 square miles. Independence Missouri has 293 percent of the population of Hoboken and has over 60 times the land area for the police department to patrol. The current staffing for the city of Independence Missouri Police Department was 151 at the time of the report. For Hoboken it is 174 employees based on documents from this year. Assuming that Hoboken’s currently population is 45,000 due to growth and undercounting of the census, that is one employee for every 222 residents of this town, or one for every 258 residents. For Independence Missouri the number is one cop for every 750 residents. Is Hoboken really that different from Independence Missouri that we need almost three the number of cops per resident?
I am no expert in the appropriate levels of Police staffing but my feeling is Hoboken is:
1. Too top heavy. Too many captains and officers over $100K year.
2. Needs more foot patrols daytime.
3. Needs to be staffed according to peak times (more car patrols weekend nights).
4. Overstaffed (possibly).
5. Needs a new leadership vision after many years of the wrong leadership from the former Chief.
Let’s leave it to the experts to find out. If the State is conducting a review of the police department it should be comprehensive and independent. I think that the City Council should have such a report before they pass any more appropriations. If the State cannot provide this level of analysis then professionals of the caliber that Beth Mason has proposed should be brought in through an open bidding process. So far both the Mayor and the State appear to be willing to bury the over expenditures over many years, which is simply bad fiscal policy and playing budget politics. Bringing in consultants would ensure that the view would be independent and remove any potential aspect of impropriety. I understand that the State has some good people but with the political connections between the Mayor, Turner and Doria I think it is best we get an outside opinion. This isn’t about politics; this is about doing the right thing.
Kurt R Gardiner