Riding Along with the DPD
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to ride along with a DPD patrol from 6-11 pm Saturday. I would like to thank Chief Bladel for extending the invitation and I would like to thank Officer Harris for allowing me to ride along in his squad car.
The patrol beat, last night, had nine cars in the city; eight on assigned beats and one that had more of a "roaming capacity." Officer Harris had the roaming assignment. According to those I spoke with last night was relatively quite (for a July Saturday night), probably due to the storms that passed through and the unseasonably cool weather we had. Nevertheless the officers were busy in all corners of the city.
Most of what we encountered was fairly routine: disorderly folks at a convenience store, a false 911 call, fender bender, a couple neighborhood disturbances, trespassing in a announcer's box at a ball field, and a search for a man that has a warrant for his arrest (stayed in the car for that one). All accounts were handled professionally and efficiently once on the scene. Obviously there is a reason the department is accredited (the Quad Cities’ first and Iowa’s largest law enforcement agency to become accredited) -- they do a great job with what they have to work with.
It is interesting to note, although not surprising, that the majority (well over 50%) of the calls seem to be associated with rental properties; despite the fact that they only make up less than 1/4 of our cumulative population.
It is easy to see how they can become spread thin at times. The search for the warranted individual required three cars and another time (we did not respond to this), during the night, three or so cars responded to a foot chase on Elmore for a shoplifting suspect. Once these situations occur, far fewer cars are on patrol and response times can slow. I know when we started out at 6 pm, Officer Harris had three calls to attend to (all lower priorities), but it is hard to be three places at once and it takes time.
The technology with the computers in the cars is impressive, from the video/audio taping capabilities, to the beat breakdown and instant messaging systems in the computer -- great tools for the officers. The new police station will help make things more efficient and effective and new patrols cars are slated for FY-07.
I do know we have come and will continue to come to crossroads with our budgeting processes. Funding for public safety is expensive and to deliver these high levels of service costs a lot of money. We can take steps (i.e. consolidated dispatch) to free up more dollars and become more efficient, but to put more officers on the street we will have to work hard to make this come into place. It is a delicate balance offering high levels of city services and reasonable tax structures. Hopefully, in future budgets we will be able to help bring more folks on board -- perhaps keying in on NETS, which helps take care of problems more at the ground level in a proactive manner.
I guess I wasn't surprised at the outcome of my ride along, it lined up pretty well with what I have heard from our Chief and Union Board. But, it was nice to see things first hand. Thanks again to DPD.
To learn more about DPD click here.