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ATL auditors: Too many cops downtown?


Atlanta police may be overstaffed on downtown patrol beats and understaffed in south and west Atlanta, a recent city audit suggests.

Auditors looked at patrols in each of the department’s six zones and compared the length of “blackout” periods — the times when all patrol officers are tied up on a call — to assess how the force allocates its resources.

Zones 1 (west Atlanta), 3 (southeast Atlanta) and 4 (southwest Atlanta) had the most blackout minutes per day — up to 3 hours. Zone 5 (downtown) had the fewest.

Here’s the breakdown:

Zone 1 (west Atlanta) — 163.5 minutes

Zone 2 (Buckhead) — 80.4 minutes

Zone 3 (southeast Atlanta) — 172 minutes

Zone 4 (southwest Atlanta) — 178.1 minutes

Zone 5 (downtown) — 39.7 minutes

Zone 6 (east Atlanta) — 81.7 minutes

That means all Zone 5 patrol officers were engaged on calls for 39.7 minutes on a typical day. Officers in Zone 4 were tied up more than four times as often.

The auditors also analyzed blackout periods by day and shift to recommend staffing changes that would put officers on the street when and where they are needed most.

In Zone 4, for instance, patrols are stretched so thin that officers are typically tied up an average of 20 minutes an hour between 10 p.m. and midnight. During those blackouts, officers could not respond to a call for service wthout leaving the scene of another call.

The comparisons reflect police staffing levels between March 2007 and March 2008. They do not address the effect of police furloughs imposed in January, when patrol officers shifted to a 4-day, 36-hour week.

Police officials said they agreed with the audit’s findings and would use its methodology to assess current staffing levels and make adjustments where needed.

The full report, as well as two previous police audits, is available here.





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