More than 15,000 people have moved to St. Petersburg, Fl., since 1990, but the police department has added just 16 officers, says the St. Petersburg Times. The city has the leanest police department among cities in the Tampa Bay area. Police Chief Chuck Harmon says he doesn’t need more officers. He bases staffing decisions on many factors other than population growth and calls for service. “All of our performance indicators are going in the right direction,” he said. “Those are the things I’m concerned about from a data standpoint as chief. Are we doing the right things?”
Harmon pointed to measurements like drug-related arrests nearly doubled since 2002 and response time to major calls for service (down 1.5 minutes to 5.6 minutes since 2002). Neighborhood leaders have complained about cuts in the department’s community policing program. And some rank-and-file police officers say they’re being stretched too thin. They handled 121,177 calls for service in 2005, about 4,000 more than in 2002. The growing number of calls forces officers to dash from one call to the next, some say, keeping them from spending enough time on time-intensive activities like community policing that can prevent crimes.