Saturday, June 7, 2008

Police Department Improvements

Have you noticed the recent changes in our Police Department? There are a lot of things happening. Dennis Weiner was named the interim Police Chief on March 1st, and he has been moving and shaking to reorganize and implement improvements to service and utilize police staff more efficiently. The first thing you may notice is an increased police presence on the street. Officers have been directed to spend more time out of the office and on the street patrolling. They must be present at the schools in the morning and when schools let out in the afternoon, helping keep our children safe.

Interim Chief Weiner requires more follow up on complaints. He has set up a program to review all open calls. Each incident is actively investigated and a solution found whenever possible. It is annoying when citizens call the Police Department with an issue, and then nothing seems to happen. This is a policy change that keeps the police on top of criminal activities in our town. The “bad guys” realize when we’re not following up on petty crimes, and it makes us a target for illegal activities. In the future, Interim Chief Weiner plans to fill one of the vacant positions in the Police Department with an experienced investigator. This will increase efficiency even more. Earlier this week Madison police reported that they do not have the staff to investigate drive offs at gas stations. They only deal with property and personal damage crimes. Our Columbus Police Department provides these services. We take complaints and follow up on minor issues, keeping the small problems small and preventing crime. This is a quality of life decision for Columbus. I like the fact that the police are there when I need them. It makes me feel safe in my community and provides a level of service that cannot be found in many large cities.

Interim Chief Weiner is out on the streets doing some of the patrols. I rode with him on the graveyard shift last week. We checked out a number of businesses, pulled over some suspicious folks, ran plates on cars parked in unusual places, and had some routine traffic stops. Dennis and his family have lived in the Columbus area all of his life, and he knows and loves our community and his passion is to keep us safe. It is wonderful to see the increased police presence and a renewed sense of community in the Police Department.

And you know dispatch is completely transitioned to Columbia County. There have been virtually no problems. All calls are accurately dispatched and the Police Department has administrative staff dedicated to transcribing reports and providing customer service. We receive excellent reports from County that provide information on calls and activities within our department. When officers come on duty they log onto the dispatch center computer system, and each time they are sent to a call their whereabouts is tracked. This creates a record of all officers’ activities for the day… providing management with data that can lead to process improvements and increased productivity. Columbia County provides reports showing peak call times, and officers’ schedules have been adjusted to balance the number of officers on duty with community need, making the entire department run more efficiently.

In the summer there is an increased need for police presence in our community. Thank you to Interim Chief Weiner and the entire Columbus Police Department for finding innovative ways to serve Columbus with minimal staff and maximum efficiency. We currently have 9 officers, 2 vacancies and 2.5 administrative folks. Filling one of the vacancies with an investigator will increase skills and keeps the department below budget… building a lean, efficient Columbus Police Department.