After studying an array of factors, Interim Police Chief Mike Harden will be applying a beat-sector system to the way the department patrols the city.
“I felt a shift from our current patrol model to a more defined beat-sector alignment would lend itself to a more productive, efficient and accountable police department,” Chief Harden said.
Officers previously randomly patrolled the six-square mile city without any assignment to a geographic area. The change will occur shortly.
The former Modesto police chief said the proposed beat system, a likelihood of two beats in the city, would allow officers to focus and take ownership of their assigned area primarily to decrease crime, improve the community’s quality-of-life, and also increasing accountability. Other benefits would be increased visibility and better response times.
“Our response times aren’t bad currently,” Harden said. “Rather than having officers patrol randomly without a defined area, it is reasonable to conclude officers may respond from the same area of the city if the beat-sector system is not in place.”
Under the new model, each beat will have permanent assigned officers during the department’s shift with the goal of spending as much time as possible in their assigned beats to recognize potential problems and crime patterns.
The information gathered throughout the shift would be shared during shift change, through inter-department communications and during neighborhood watch meetings.
Chief Harden said officers would be able to recognize areas that are blighted and in need of attention and thus, having the beat as “theirs,” have responsibilities for the problems.
The assignments will make it easier to dispatch calls and for supervisors to evaluate officer accountability.
Under the plan, officers will be able to more effectively coordinate with other city departments for issues such as traffic lights, trees, and graffiti removal as opposed to the previous patrol system.
“The beat system improves customer service with a greater number of quality contacts with the community,” Chief Harden said.
Additionally, with people seeing officers in both ends of town, there’s increased visibility by the public.
“My experience is it works, provides officer ownership, and is geographically based rather than random,” Harden said. “I think it just flows for police work.”