TORONTO - City Police are making changes they say will better serve the public, including using Jefferson County 911 during the evening hours for calls instead of an in-house dispatcher.
Using the 911 system instead of a dispatcher from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. will free up an extra officer for evening street patrols, according to City Police Chief Randy Henry.
"We've been evaluating what to do to get more manpower on the street (during evening hours) at no additional cost," said Henry, adding the department has been sporadically testing using 911 during evening hours. "(Those contacting police) can still call the police line, which will then be routed to 911.
"We'll also be routing some calls during the daylight hours as well instead of paying a dispatcher to come in part time," he continued. "The personnel at Jefferson County 911 are highly trained. We're going to take those dispatcher-officers and put them on the road."
Other changes include elimination of the juvenile officer's position, and "the officers are now answering their own calls," said the chief, adding the change would allow for up to four cruisers on the street at the same time.
"We need the manpower here at nights," said Capt. Rick Parker, adding he will keep track of statistics on juvenile arrests. "(Officers) will handle the (juvenile) calls and the charges."
Parker also said an overhaul of the dispatch system will put more officers where and when they are most needed.
"This enables us to put an extra man on the road for 12 hours at no additional cost to the taxpayer," continued Parker, adding efficient scheduling is key. "We need all the manpower we can get on the road."
"It will be a better system," said Henry. "We will have more officers that can respond to calls."
Another recent change is the addition of foot patrols in the city, Parker said.
"We've started our walking patrols," said Parker, adding officers will conduct staggered patrols in groups of two. "We can move them around anywhere. We'll always have two guys walking together."
The patrols will include patrolman in backup squads if any arrests are made, said Parker.
Henry and Parker both said the response so far to the patrols has been overwhelmingly positive.
One other coming addition will be the installation of a direct line to 911 for the public to use in the City Municipal Building, said Parker. The idea is to enable officers to respond faster and more efficiently when needed.
"We're going to stop any (crime) here before it begins," Parker said. "We're doing what we need to do for the department and for the citizens."