Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti knows it takes too long for his officers to respond to a call. He knows his neighborhood patrols spend too little time watching the streets for property crimes. He knows his city has a drug problem, a prostitution problem.
Last night, at his quarterly town hall meeting, the police chief told an audience of more than 100 what he’d like to do about all this. Standing alone before the crowd in city council chambers, he unveiled the Redding Police Department Strategic Plan, a response to a recommendation made by the city’s Blueprint for Public Safety last year.
The plan Paoletti presented, a one-hour digest of a 20-page document released to the public last Friday, strives to hire new staff and increase some current staff hours, modernize outdated equipment, partner with community organizations and extend further out onto the internet, beyond the existing RPD website and its new Facebook page.
Initial funding for implementation of the plan presumes passage of a ballot measure facing the voters this November, Paoletti answered in response to an audience member’s question, but he made it clear he was not asking for support of Measure D.
“That’s up to you guys,” he told his audience. “That’s up to the city council and the community to decide.” In response to another question he declared, “I’m not part of the tax!” referring the the measure’s proposed Redding 0.5% sales tax increase for ten years, which would dedicate an estimated $5 million to the Redding Police Department Strategic Plan.
In the plan, the police department proclaims a mission to “promote a safe and secure community by courageously enforcing the law.”
“Everything that we do as police officers comes down to our ability to enforce the law,” Paoletti emphasized. “When we solve problems in places like the Redding Inn, we enforce the law. When we go to a house to determine for domestic violence, we enforce the law. When we deal with the criminal element of our community, which is big concern for the citizens of our community, we enforce the law.”
He expressed frustration with the police department’s current limitations when providing that enforcement, citing staff shortages.
“That’s a lot of the explanation for the response time,” he said. “In 2008, prior to the recession, the Redding Police Department had about 83,000-85,000 calls for service, and the Priority 1 emergency response time was eight minutes. As of right now, the response time is 14 minutes and 53 seconds.”
He said the department has less people than it had in 2008, and is receiving about 15,000 calls more than what was projected.
Initial implementation of his department’s plan would add 10 full-time community service officers. “CSO’s take every call that it doesn’t take somebody with gun. A lot of the report calls that are tying up our police officers’ time can be taken by a CSO.”
Paoletti said the department would also hire six additional patrol officers, and two investigators each for gang activity and for sex crimes.
“We have a prostitution problem in the City of Redding,” he announced. “There are several websites that advertise illicit shops, that advertise out and outright sex for hire. The problem is we don’t have the access and the trained personnel to do vice operations.”
He said if he had more officers, they would have more time to patrol neighborhoods. “Right now it’s not happening,” he said. “They’re going from one call to the next call to the next call.”
Staffing is not the only problem addressed in the Redding Police Department Strategic Plan. Among other issues, Paoletti said that the radios his officers use are so old the manufacturer is about to discontinue service on them, and the department’s computers date back the mid 1980’s.
“So when I say we’re bringing them up to this century, I mean that literally,” he concluded.
Paoletti said it took months to piece the plan together.
“We started that process with the command staff by researching probably 50-60 different strategic plans throughout the country,” he said. “We wanted a format that was easy to understand, short enough so that people would read it — including our employees — and that would set a direction for us to go.”
He called the plan a living document. “Every year we are going to review it. We’re going to report back to the community at these town hall meetings what we’ve accomplished, what the progress is, and if a goal has been accomplished we will remove it and replace it another one.”
He said anyone who wants to read the document or monitor any changes in it can go to the Redding Police Department website at www.reddingpolice.org.