Dunwoody’s police force soon will add four officers as part of a unit that will target areas with high rates of crime and traffic in the city.
The City Council approved the crime response team as part of the 2013 budget on Oct. 29. The crime response team is part of a five-year staffing plan Police Chief Billy Grogan has presented to council.
Some, like Councilman Terry Nall, said the latest statistics about the department’s workload justify the request for more police officers in Dunwoody.
According to the Dunwoody Police Department, total calls for service increased 77 percent from 2011 to 2012.
In the first nine months of 2012 violent crimes are down significantly compared to 2011. Armed robberies decreased 40 percent and aggravated assaults are down 68 percent.
However, property crimes are up. For the same period, there were 30 percent more burglaries, larceny rose almost 20 percent and motor vehicle theft was up 31 percent.
Grogan said he can’t pinpoint exactly why property crimes have increased, but he said much of the crime is related to car break-ins.
Grogan said Dunwoody has a lot of businesses, office buildings and apartment buildings with big parking lots.
“There’s a lot of nice stuff here to steal,” Grogan said. “Unfortunately, people keeping leaving valuables in their cars.”
Nall asked Grogan to provide information about how often all Dunwoody officers are already busy on other calls when an emergency call comes through the city’s E-911 center, called ChatComm.
Using ChatComm’s computer aided dispatch system, Grogan was able to calculate that 25.5 percent of the time, an emergency call cannot be immediately dispatched because all officers are already working on other calls.
“I was surprised it was so high. But it actually did confirm what I felt intuitively this year during my five ride-alongs (with Dunwoody Police),” Nall said.
Grogan, however, was not shocked.
“It didn’t really surprise me because I know our guys are busy a lot,” Grogan said.
The city of Sandy Springs also uses the ChatComm 911 authority, but did not have the same data available, according to Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult.
Grogan said it is not a statistic that is typically tracked. “I have no idea how that compares to other departments,” Grogan said.
Nall said though he doesn’t know what that number is for other departments, he feels 25.5 percent is too high for Dunwoody.
“The most important statistic we’ve talked about in public safety is measured in my view in terms of when a 911 call comes in, do we have an officer immediately available for dispatch?” Nall said. “The work load currently suggests we are understaffed.”
Grogan has said the four-officer crime response team will help the department do more proactive policing.
“I believe the call volume, workload and crime in Dunwoody justifies additional man power,” Grogan said.