An operational study completed over the last year has found a few changes can be made to help the city of Davenport's Police and Fire Departments function at a more optimal level.
Richard Brady, president of Matrix Consulting Group, revealed the results of the study Tuesday to the Davenport City Council during its management update meeting but found that neither departments was in need of major changes.
Brady said the operational study evaluated how departments were organized, staffed and operated as well as how they worked together with other departments and with the community.
"It was more than a number hunting exercise," Brady said. "We needed to understand how police and fire personnel were providing services, how they were working as an organization. Reading annual reports and going through computer-generated dispatch reports isn't going to get you there."
For the police department, Brady said employees were not given an adequate amount of time to solve problems in a proactive way.
Part of the problem, Brady said, was that there was a larger-than-normal number of vacancies for patrol positions.
During interviews last year, Brady said that those positions were vacant 16 percent of the time. A normal amount varies between 5 and 10 percent.
While Davenport has budgeted for an adequate number of patrol personnel, filling those positions has been part of the problem.
Following the meeting, Brady said the reasons for the department's vacancy issues were not explored as part of the study and that follow-up interviews were not conducted with police employees about why they left.
Brady did say during his presentation that staff was needed to perform outreach and look at non-traditional recruiting methods to help attract more applicants to the police force.
He also recommended the department create more partnerships with residents and be more transparent in its approach to reporting performance to the City Council as well as the community.
As far as the fire department, Brady said that it was able to meet the critical performance measures, but there were places it could also improve.
Brady mentioned that while captains are allowed to take on more tasks, such as being involved in purchasing, sometimes the tasks were too much and should have been given to a district chief.
One place that has more serious issues is the need for apparatus replacement.
Brady said the city would need to plan for the replacement of six engines and three aerial ladders moving forward.
While there were a number of other recommendations for both the police and fire departments, Brady said they were minor in nature and commended both departments.
"I think in terms of operations management and support for the community, I think you've got a good foundation," Brady said.
City Administrator Corri Spiegel said both departments have begun implementing some of the suggestions including the need for a public safety analyst.
Davenport will be adding four officers, including two school resource officers next year, thanks in part to a challenge grant from the Bechtel Trust, which Spiegel said will help with recruitment by building relationships at the junior high level.