Burbank police said at a community forum this week that they’re continuing to look at ways to reduce response times that have reached an average of 20 minutes for non-emergency calls.
Part of that effort has included discussion of hiring more officers — something City Council members recently offered up as an option to alleviating what Police Chief Scott LaChasse has warned is a thinly stretched force.
The average response time for non-emergency calls in September was 20 minutes, 43 seconds, according to police. That figure has steadily increased in recent years — it was 12 minutes, 49 seconds during the same period in 2008.
Councilman David Gordon, one of the council liaisons to the Police Commission, said it was important for the department to have enough “boots on the ground.”
“I will push on the City Council to have resources for the Police Department,” Gordon said. “It’s not acceptable to see response times increase.”
The possibility of more officers versus more overtime pay is scheduled for discussion at a Nov. 16 joint meeting between the City Council and Police Commission.
The department finds itself thinly spread for at least two unrelated factors, officials have said.
Transporting prisoners to the Glendale jail while their own jail is closed during repairs to correct shoddy construction work means officers are unavailable for calls for extended periods of time. Additionally, Burbank officers also have been coping with an uptick in calls for service related to mentally ill people.
Police have identified five mentally ill people who use about 30% to 35% of their resources. Next week, officers and representatives from local nonprofits are scheduled to be in the field together as work on developing a more effective unified response continues.
The community forum on Wednesday, sponsored by the Police Commission, also allowed residents to comment on public safety matters, but with few people addressing officials, the discussion focused mainly on efforts to cope with strained resources and the impact on response times.
Eloise Haldeman, a resident who complained about the longer response times for calls regarding trespassing and noise, said improvements are needed.
“It’s good to hear about the emphasis on information and technology in the department, it can only help,” she said.
Capt. Ron Caruso also said an update on the communications center manual would be needed with information recently obtained from training on child abductions.
LaChasse said the information obtained from the training was an example of how the department’s Strategic Plan, recently approved by the City Council, will continue to change.