It can be a challenge for major cities to keep their public transit lines safe, especially with limited resources.
In Washington, D.C., a series of high-profile assaults and shootings on the subway have led the D.C. Metro Transit Police to boost patrols throughout the system. But personnel numbers are tight right now, and even officers who have been confined to desk jobs due to injuries will be asked to monitor stations.
Sometimes, paying police and firefighters overtime is necessary. The nature of the job does not always lend itself well to normal work hours — there are almost always unexpected situations to cover that can range from emergency situations, to extreme weather events or security scenarios.
But how much overtime for public safety personnel is too much? That's the question that many municipal officials and local budget watchdogs are asking themselves. Sometimes, excessive overtime is not a sign of flexibility, but rather of an overworked department.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released its report on the March 2014 fire in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.
In 2014, a building fire in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood killed two firefighters and injured 13 others. Investigators attributed the cause of the March 26 fire to welders who were working on an iron handrail at a building next door. High winds caused the sparks to jump to the scene of the fire, igniting the blaze. Looking back on the tragic event, Boston Fire Department Commissioner Joseph Finn called it a "perfect storm" of issues.
Municipalities deal with budget shortages by cutting spending on public services. However, sometimes these cuts can be more costly than initially expected.
Reducing public safety personnel can end up straining other budgetary line-items. For instance, in Orange County, Florida, a shortage of firefighters and strict federal overtime rules has led to a spike in overtime spending. The county has been forced to find $15 million in the last five years to cover this gap.
In an emergency, every second counts. But in far-flung rural areas, it can be difficult for first responders to reach their destinations in time.
Though municipal governments do their best to deploy emergency responders in a manner that gives them the maximum possible reach, tight budgets often leaves these crews understaffed. Public safety standards inevitably suffer as a result.
Faced with increasing overtime costs, city officials in Portland, Maine have secured a significant concession from the firefighters' union. The Portland Press-Herald reports that the city will be asked to approve a new contract with firefighters that will fill vacant positions and cut overtime.
It's becoming increasingly clear that new technology is helping police officers do their jobs. The algorithms that support predictive policing software, for example, make it easier to prevent crime sprees.
While this is good news for neighborhood safety, it is important for proponents of policing technology to understand that the software alone cannot make a difference without dedicated officers to back it up.
Cities that will host upcoming party nomination conventions are boosting security measures.
Politics can lead to tense moments and flared tempers. This is particularly true during a competitive election season.
The ongoing presidential primary and upcoming general election campaign are perfect examples of how the political process can get rowdy. Most recently, for example, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump chose to cancel a planned rally in Chicago following concerns that growing protests in the area could threaten public safety. At the time, many within the campaign feared that scuffles between supporters and left-wing demonstrators might have escalated into full on, citywide violence.
Today, police departments are forced to operate under a number of constraints that make it difficult for them to meet their goals.
When people talk about what they expect from their local and state police forces, it can sometimes appear contradictory. Citizens want their police forces to keep them safe and do whatever it takes to bring criminals to justice, but they also want officers to show restraint when encountering suspects. Reformers want to equip officers with body cameras to improve oversight, but taxpayers are less sanguine about footing the bill.
Nationwide statistics show that average crime rates have fallen significantly in the past two decades. However, this hasn't been the case in every part of the country. Some cities have experienced brief crime spikes in the past few years. Others are simply growing more populous. This — combined with the aftereffects of the last recession — has left them with police shortages.
Shortages of police officers can be problematic for multiple reasons. With fewer officers, it can be difficult to respond to emergency calls as quickly as public safety experts would like. In addition, efforts to maintain full coverage with a short-handed staff puts more pressure on existing sworn officers — and boost municipal overtime spending.
Orion Communications is a certified women-owned business enterprise headquartered in Dallas, Texas that has been specializing in workforce management software since 1998. As Public Sector workforce management and data interface experts, Orion is a unique provider of dynamically intelligence workforce management software. Orion serves agencies with complex requirements and improves workforce productivity using its web based AgencyWeb® system and consultative management services.