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K9 Staffing Analysis

Written by Mickey Davis, Jim Weiss

Deployment of K9 teams increases the probability of closure of cases by arrest.

K9 Staffing Analysis
B
y: Jim Weiss and Mickey Davis

 

How many officers are needed on duty at a given time? Studies and recommendations by various agencies generally say the ratio is between 0.85 and 1.5 police officers per thousand residents. On the low side or the high side of that ratio, many considerations need to be factored.

The Pasco County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office addressed their staffing issue with a twist.

They wanted to research K9 staffing and how K9 teams impacted rates of arrest on calls, as well as the types of calls where the presence of a K9 saved patrol time for deputies. They wanted to improve the optimal efficiency of their K9 units. The focus was to pinpoint, hour by hour, the cost benefit of having additional units available, and to identify specifically the degree of impact they would have.

According to Lieutenant Brian Prescott, Commanding Officer, Sheriff’s Intelligence-led Policing (ILP) Section, the purposes of their K9 Staffing Analysis would be to evaluate seasonal trends, analyze K9 units’ utilization under current deployment conditions, determine the impact of K9 involvement in resolutions of calls for service, discover the present distribution of calls by location, and provide recommendations and benefits for future K9 schedules.

Pasco County covers 747 square miles and has a population of about 470,000, a majority of whom live in the western section near the Gulf of Mexico. Within the county’s boundaries are six mid-size and small-size cities with city police departments. The sheriff’s K9 deputy teams and the police officer K9 teams from the city departments train together and have the same training standards, since the agencies’ K9 teams can be called upon for mutual assistance.

Normally three Sheriff’s K9 teams are scheduled to be on duty nightly, but vacations, sick time, etc., can have a limiting effect. More dogs are detailed to the western section of the county where greater population and more transient neighborhoods are located.

When three K9 teams are at work, one is assigned the east county to save time and travel to get to locations where they are needed. It is especially helpful to call on a nearby city’s K9 team for assistance, especially if the sheriff’s K9 teams are short staffed.

 

The K9 Utilization Study

The Sheriff’s Office’s Intelligence-led Policing Section was asked to study the K9 Unit and make recommendations concerning staffing and deployment. During a lieutenant’s presentation at a Pasco Sheriff’s Citizen Police Academy, one of the attendees, a young woman, asked questions well above the norm for the general public.

Jhojana Infante, an industrial engineer on sabbatical leave, turned out to be both available and willing to assist ILP as a Sheriff’s Office volunteer. She was given the lead in this complex analysis.

Using information from the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system and the Crimes Management System (CMS), she analyzed K9 activities in responding to calls for service requiring a K9 presence, as well as those calls generally assigned to patrol deputies and street-level K9 teams. (K9 deputies are patrol deputies with a specialty, so there is not any type of call they should not go to if they are clear and can do so, especially if they are nearby.)

Infante studied the K9 workload by location, day of the week, and hour to determine how many K9 deputies would be appropriate. The workload was also projected for the next year. Next, she calculated how effective the K9 teams had been, both in answering calls for service and in increasing the arrest rate for those types of calls. Finally, she reported multiple staffing and deployment options, showing the cost and benefit of each.

The analysis boiled the details of thousands of calls for service and their related crime reports into actionable intelligence for managerial decision-making. The software programs used were MS-Access, MS-Excel, and ESRI’s ArcGIS (a mapping program). The final presentation to the command staff was made using MS-PowerPoint.

The Sheriff’s K9 Unit is comprised of seven K9 teams made up of one handler and one dog. At the beginning of the study, the schedule for the K9 Units was from 1900 to 0430 hours, four days a week. This schedule was based upon the gut instincts of Sergeant Brian Brosnan, the Sheriff’s Office K9 supervisor and head instructor of the Pasco County K9 School.

To ensure full coverage seven days a week, the schedule was divided. Wednesday was primarily reserved for the training of all K9 teams. K9 resources were also stretched thin by two month-long basic Patrol K9 Schools, Narcotics K9 School, plus normal vacation times and sick days.

 

Scope and Structure of Analysis

The study used 15 months of data from the K9 Unit. It was discovered that while K9 deputies could assist with any call for service, there were 38 types of call categories that could be considered K9 calls. These included incidents involving fleeing suspects or calls in which the potential for a fleeing suspect was increased, such as calls marked In Progress or Just Occurred.

The Narcotics Section also had a K9 assigned but was not included in this study as it does not normally respond to such calls. The shift for a K9 team was from 1900 to 0430, but to account for call-outs, a K9 day was considered to start at 0500 and end at 0459 the following day, not midnight to midnight.

Throughout this study, there was a need to determine when a K9 team was on scene and the dog was deployed, as opposed to when a K9 team was on scene serving as backup and the services of the dog were not utilized. Computer-Aided Dispatch does not track when a K9 is actually deployed, so for the purposes of the study, it was assumed calls in which on-scene time was greater than 30 minutes were calls where a canine was deployed.        

A Heat Map Chart indicated that K9 teams responded to the following top-20 of 38 types of calls when looking at the agency globally: 1) Prowler/Peeping Tom, Just Occurred; 2) Domestic Battery, Just Occurred; 3) Burglary, Auto, Just Occurred; 4) Trespassing, In-Progress; 5) Burglary, Residence, Just Occurred; 6) Drug Violation; 7) Battery, Simple, Just Occurred; 8) Fight, In-Progress; 9) Missing Adult, Endangered; 10) Robbery; and 11) Burglary, Residence, In Progress.

Additional calls were: 12) Robbery, Home Invasion; 13) Missing Person, Under Age 13; 14) Assault, Aggravated, Just Occurred; 15) Fleeing-Eluding; 16) Battery, Domestic, Aggravated, Just Occurred; 17) Prowler/Peeping Tom, Delayed; 18) Battery, Aggravated, Just Occurred; 19) Suicide, Attempted, Just Occurred; and 20) Assault, Aggravated, In Progress. The numbers of arrests were projected to increase due to an historical increase in calls for service categorized as Domestic Battery, Just Occurred.

Another analysis concerned the top-38 types of calls with K9 deployment. People being Baker Acted (mental concerns where the person can be taken into custody for psychological evaluation) could be added as a potential K9; there were 54 such calls, with an average on-scene time of 30.03 minutes.

A Seasonal Trends Graph tracked where a K9 was obligated as well as the number of K9 calls. It was found there are social and natural factors that contribute to an increase in K9 calls for service for spring and summer months. This may be because in the summer when windows were open, people heard more and called more, such as on a windy night when there really wasn’t a prowler. K9 patrol schools and/or K9 special programs can also impact deployment and seasonality trends.

K9 Utilization Analysis Graphs showed the amount of time K9 units were on calls that were considered K9 related. On the average day, there were 2.45 K9 teams working. Sixty-eight percent of the time when K9 teams were on duty, they were responding/assisting in one of the 38 K9 call categories; of these, 42 percent of the time on-scene was greater than 30 minutes, suggesting the dog was deployed.

Utilization by day of the week and by hour were studied, and showed that Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays had the highest number of calls responded to/assisted. On Wednesdays, there were not fewer calls, but the dogs were training at that time.

Twelve percent of the time there were inconsistencies between CAD and RMS (Report Management System) because incident reports indicating K9 activity/involvement was not reflected in CAD. As a result, a 12 percent data discrepancy value was added to time calculations. Adding a category in CAD when K9 teams are dispatched would provide more accurate data.

The K9 Utilization Graphs helped the Sheriff’s Office figure out when to have K9s on duty. The number of calls for service categorized as a K9 call (any described as one of the 38 types of calls plus Baker Act) generally begin to increase at 1400 hours on any given day.

For example, people under the influence of drugs are still sleeping until about 1400 hours. This is also the time when the 75,000 students in the Pasco County schools let out, so law enforcement activity increased with unsupervised children, etc. In the afternoon, there is also an increase when people arrive home from work and discover a crime has occurred.

A Heat Map with colored “hot spots” showed where most of the activity occurred (in the populated western part of the county and around one of the larger cities in the northeastern section) and where K9 deputies should be located when not on calls. Another graph also showed when concurrent related K9 calls happened. For example, one Friday night 12 calls occurred during the 2300 hour, an anomaly.

A K9 Impact Graph showed obligated time by types of calls, when a K9 was present and when a K9 was not present. Non-K9 obligated time increased 31 percent on calls when K9s were deployed. This means on the average, non-K9 units spent 277 minutes (cumulative of all deputies on scene) on a call when K9 teams were not deployed, and 410 minutes on a call with K9 teams were deployed. A Calls Distribution by Location Graph indicated there were no major differences on distribution of calls by location between morning (5am to 5pm) and night (5pm to 5am).

When compared, graphs of all 38 types of K9 calls by the hour for both the west and east county showed the western part of the county, where most of the population was located, had more K9 coverage than the east, which included swamps and more rural settings.

 

Recommendations

In the review of the collected data, the Sheriff’s Office’s Intelligence-led Policing Section offered recommendations for four separate scheduling changes.

Proposed Schedule A – Have K9 teams on duty between 1000 and 1930 every day, with no scheduling changes of K9 teams between 1900 and 0430 hours. This action would decrease K9 total obligated hours by 9 percent. The reduction of time is due to shorter response time because there would be a unit on duty, available on day shift only.

Proposed Schedule B – Add a K9 team on days where high obligation hours peak: Monday, Tuesday and Saturday. Scheduling hours would be between 1900 and 0430 hours; this action would decrease K9 obligated hours by 11 percent. The reduction of time is due to having K9 teams on duty.

Proposed Schedule C – Add two K9 teams, with one team on duty every day shift. The scheduling hours would be between 1900 and 0430 hours. This action would decrease each K9 team’s total obligated hours by 54 percent. Such a reduction of time is due to having more units on duty during current K9 team scheduled hours. Therefore, the average number of K9 teams working per night would double.

Proposed Schedule D – Add two K9 teams. Different from Schedule C, hours would have one K9 team added between 1000 to 1930 hours and one added between 1900 and 0430 hours. This action will decrease K9 obligated hours by 51 percent. The reduction time is due to having more units on duty, one on day shift and one on night shift.

Overall, if the number of K9 teams was increased, the average number of calls for service assisted/responded by K9 would increase by about 40 percent. The benefits of shifting two patrol units to become K9 teams would benefit both patrol and K9 operations by having these K9 teams specialized in both functional areas. K9 obligated time can be reduced anywhere from 9–54 percent of the current obligated time depending on the proposed recommendation selected.

The deployment of K9 teams increases the probability of closure of cases by arrest. Furthermore, K9 teams will be available to respond to 48 percent more calls for service if a unit was available 1000 to 1930 hours.

 

Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, Ohio, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author.


Published in Tactical Response, Mar/Apr 2013

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