The Columbia Police Department is looking for new methods to respond to service calls faster despite being about 30 percent understaffed.
Patrol division officers started a new shift schedule Sunday after a consulting firm determined the department’s peak call hours were between 5 p.m. and 3 a.m.
“We’re going to be amplifying the number of officers we have on duty during those peak service hours, which is something we hadn’t looked at internally until we’d gotten all this data together and realized this is the time we really need to have full staffing,” said Bryana Larimer, CPD spokesperson.
Larimer said patrol officers will still work 12-hour shifts, but some shifts will start at 8 p.m. rather than 6 p.m.
The department also added a 10-hour “power shift” to have more officers on duty during the peak hours for service.
The schedule changes include no new sworn officers to the force.
“The idea is to provide efficiency and productivity in responding to these calls for service,” she said. “We often times would reach ‘zero status,’ which would be calls holding for an undetermined amount of time.”
During those peak hours on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, officers responded to 349 calls. In 2015, each officer responded to 888 calls.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Columbia should have 1.9 police officers per 1,000 residents. Right now CPD has 165 sworn officers, which is about 1.4 officers per 1,000 residents.
The department has also recently added an extra sector to its city beat assignment map. Larimer said this will help evenly divide the current eight beat areas into four different sector locations of the city.
“We want to make sure we’re utilizing our resources the best we can,” she said. “There’s always opportunity for us to review this and if it’s not working then to try something else.”