The Durango Police Department could be reorganized to help officers focus on law enforcement.
“We use detectives to do things that civilians can do,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc told the Durango City Council on Friday.
The city is in the early stages of change, and LeBlanc expects to present specifics in the middle of 2017.
The staff plans to research police department models and ask interim Chief Lynn Johnson for ideas. But most of the changes are likely to happen under the new chief, he said.
LeBlanc would like to see data-driven policing that could guide when and how officers patrol. He also would like civilian staff to help with tasks that don’t require a badge.
Such moves shouldn’t require much change to the $7 million Police Department budget, he said.
However, the department might add community service officers to handle tasks such as parking tickets, false alarms and bad checks. They could also take on some of the work handled by code enforcement.
The two city code enforcement officers estimate they will handle 8,700 calls this year and 9,500 calls next year, according to the city budget. A reorganization could allow them to focus on planning and zoning violations, which is meant to be their purpose, LeBlanc said.
Civilians also could be hired to analyze data, which would allow the department to assign officers to work at times when there are more calls and in the areas that generate calls.
“We need to be a little more focused on how we assign cars to different districts,” he said.
It is a good time for these changes because the city will hire a new chief, and the department is fully staffed after years of extraordinary turnover, he said.
In addition to the reorganization, the city plans to set aside about $65,000 for body cameras for officers and replace cameras in some of the patrol vehicles.
Video footage from the cameras helps provide evidence to prosecutors, he said.