YPD: Calls increase slightly, officers do not
By Joe Gorman
Although the number of calls police answered in 2018 is slightly higher than in 2017, the number of officers to answer them has shrunk.
Statistics for 2018 show the department answered 72,934 calls, an average of almost 200 a day, up from 66,953 calls in 2017.
The statistics, part of the department’s annual report, recently became available. The annual report was delayed several months because the department installed a new computerized reporting system, which necessitated training for everyone in how to use it. That was done before the final statistics for 2018 were compiled.
The beat that had the most calls in 2018 was Car 204, which patrols the Brownlee Woods area of the South Side. That car answered 8,331 calls, or an average of almost 23 a day. That car also answered the most calls in 2017 and 2016, with 7,451 and 8,741 calls answered, respectively.
The number of officers available to answer calls citywide, however, has been declining. That’s because the department has slowly been losing young officers who leave for other departments that have a higher starting salary while also allowing officers to achieve the maximum in a shorter time.
Youngstown’s starting salary is $14.92 an hour, and it takes 12 years for an officer to achieve the maximum salary of $54,000. The department has seen 18 officers leave since the new salary schedule was implemented about eight years ago. Other officers have taken entry-level exams with other departments but have not yet been hired.
Chief Robin Lees said the department has 94 officers whose rank is patrolman and 43 ranking officers, for a total of 137 officers, which is below the 155 officers Lees said the department needs at a minimum.
Of the 94 patrolmen, 64 of those officers are assigned specifically to the road. The remaining work in other branches of the department, such as the Family Investigative Services Unit, the vice squad or the Community Police Unit.
Lees said it’s important to note that of the ranking officers, more than 20 are detectives or work in other investigative units.
The department on July 13 gave a civil service test for entry-level officers and hopes to hire 12 to 15 from that exam in the fall. But it will take at least six months for those officers to be trained before they can patrol a beat on their own.
Lees said the increase in calls is negligible, but because the department has to fully staff three shifts, several times officers work double shifts and five officers have been transferred from other units back to the patrol division. Lees said officers working double shifts also drive up overtime costs.
With full staffing for a shift, the department staffs 13 beats across the city, which calls for 39 officers for a full 24 hours, not counting supervisors.