As the City of Ashland entered the BN 2017/19 biennial budget process, the Police Department evaluated ways to address public safety concerns, which included analyzing its staffing levels.
Given that the population has risen over the years, along with increases in both the tourist and student population, and that police staffing has remained essentially the same, it seemed clear that police staffing needed to be reviewed. This page examines police staffing levels, tourism, population, crime trends and policing strategies, as well possible funding options that were evaluated by City staff and Council.
Staffing Level Before Additional Officers Hired
Prior to the additional Police Officers being hired, the City of Ashland had a minimum staffing level of 3. That consisted of one Police Sergeant and two Police Officers.
Any critical or confrontational incident requires a minimum of two officers to cover it safely, which allows for a 2:1 ratio in working with a confrontational suspect. With only 3 Police Officers on duty at a time, the Ashland Police Department can only handle one confrontational situation at a time. If multiple incidents happen at the same time, and even if the on-duty team can manage them, the City is left with one Sergeant patrolling the entire City. If another incident were to happen, the Police Department would be required to call in resources from neighboring departments.
With the staffing levels in place at that time, the decision to cite suspects rather than apprehend and transport to jail in Medford was made to ensure the police presence is kept in the City.
In a 4 week period in 2017, Officers or Sergeants were left in the city as the sole police presence on at least 9 occasions. That left one uniformed Officer/Sergeant in the city to answer calls for service. That put our Officers/Sergeants in a gravely dangerous situation, as well as endangering our residents.
Why More Police Officers?
If the Department were to hire four additional officers the Department would increase to a ratio of 1.6 to 1,000 residents, much closer to the national average of 1.8 to 1,000. The original request was for 5 but the Department reorganized and reassigned a regional partnership Police Officer back to patrol.This would result in one additional Officer being on duty at any given time, and the re-establishment of the school resource officer program. The Department’s staffing would increase to a minimum of one supervisor and three Officers, and the department would be able to more safely handle two critical incidents simultaneously.
Response Time to Priority 1 Calls
The City is not able to reach its goal in responding to Priority 1 calls.
Number of Cases
Over the last 5 years the number of Police cases have increased 13%
Officer #1 Funding
The first Police Officers was added with a 4.5 Cent/$1,000 Assessed Valuation increase in the Property Tax rate. The property tax increase was effective July 1, 2017.
Officer #2 Funding
The second Police Officer was funded by utilizing the State Marijuana Tax Revenue along with a 50 cent/per month fee on every electric meter in the City (Public Safety Support Fee).
Officer #3 Funding
The third Police Officer was hired by instituting an increase in the Public Safety Support Fee of $1/month. This made the total electric meter charge $1.50/month.
Officer #4 Funding
The fourth Police Officer was funded with a 1% increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) rate. Of the additional 1% increase 30% is being dedicated to the fourth new Police Officer and 70% will be dedicated to improving the City's parking supply.
For more detailed information please use these links:
April 4 2017 City Council Material (includes Police Report on need)
July 18, 2017 City Council Material (Funding Options)
October 16, 2017 City Council Material (Funding Options)
December 19, 2017 City Council Material (Funding Options)
January 2, 2018 City Council Material (Funding Options)
April 17, 2018 City Council Material (Funding Options)
June 19, 2018 City Council Material (Setting Transient Occupancy Rate)