SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Last year, the city of Savannah hired a national consulting firm to analyze and assess the needs of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.
The release of the months-long study is out and for the most part, they back up what Chief Jack Lumpkin has been saying for the last two years.
While the Chief has been able to build a much larger force in that two years, he's been asking for even more to adequately control crime in a community this size.
We have followed closely what the chief has accomplished during his tenure and have the details of the newly released Berkshire Advisors study.
This was a good day for the chief, so long as the city and county follow the recommendations they paid $100,000 to get. Chief Lumpkin is not a complainer and understands city and county resources are limited.
But he came here with a very clear objective, to bring down crime, especially violent crime.
The overriding theme of those results, Metro police is still behind where it needs to be in officer numbers and way behind in basic technologies.
"I'd like to see us getting better everyday in becoming a more responsive proactive police department and responding less to calls for emergency service and of course, the instances of gun related crime in the community," said Rob Hernandez, Savannah City Manager.
Here's what Berkshire Advisors now say he needs to accomplish that goal quicker.
First, to get response times across the county down to seven minutes or less, another 146 new officers are needed. That's on top of the 250 he's already brought onboard. If we're to follow the 8 cities this study compares us to, that response time would be knocked down to just 5 minutes. That has also been the chief's goal.
The 911 center needs a complete overhaul; Berkshire says it's too small, the technology is too old, the building is too old and the roof leaks when it rains. The way we keep records is antiquated. The study found that Metro has multiple data gathering systems, none of which can communicate with one another.
And this is something I've even seen of the street. Berkshire telling the city and county too much of the patrol officer's work is still done on paper.
They also say we need to give more officers take home vehicles. Their studies in the past prove that when officers are given cars to take home, the cars last longer and are better cared for. And when officers are trusted with a single vehicle, they are happier, retention increases.
Right now only two-year veterans are allowed to take home cars and not all of them get cars.
And finally, Metro has too many precincts. We have 6 now, having just added a county SPLOST funded Whitfield Precinct building. The Berkshire study says Metro will improve efficiencies by reworking the boundaries of some precincts, adding more officers to each and shrinking the number of them.
All of this will improve policing and improve the job satisfaction of police officers.
"We have to remain competitive in order to keep the officers in the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department," said Chief Jack Lumpkin, SCMPD. "We have to lower our attrition rate. We can't have a 20 percent attrition rate and be of competency. They'll have character but they'll be moving on every 3 or 4 years. It takes a year to make them competent and about two to three years for them to really get good at a patrol officer's job. We need that 5th, 6th, 7th, year out of the millennials."
The Berkshire study goes on to talk about the need for several more detectives and the eventual elimination of Community Resource Officers.
I mentioned the 911 communications and dispatch center. The study calls for an additional 21 personnel there just to meet national standards.
The city and county are under no obligation to follow every recommendation offered by Berkshire, however City Manager, Rob Hernandez called the effort today a thorough and helpful process to have gone through.
You can read the study below: