It has been 18 years and 118 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

There were three major items on the city council workshop agenda of April 12, 2016: Assessment of the Glendale Police Department by Citygate Associates, LLC; Assessment of the Glendale Fire Department by Citygate Associates, LLC; and the Classification and Compensation Study by Segal Waters. All were major studies and links are provided to all.

Citygate performed a fair and unbiased study of the police department and fire department and staff is to be congratulated for having chosen them. These studies corroborate the fact that both departments, while they have specific needs, have performance and service records that are exceptional and meeting our community’s needs.

I have provided the Executive Summary of the police department analysis here: Citygate Associates Deployment and Performance Review .There are several comments that are worthy of note. On page 3 of the Executive Summary it states, “The Glendale City Council and this community have every reason to be proud of its Police Department. In Citygate’s opinion, as well as the opinion of many people interviewed for this report, the Police Chief and the Command staff were identified as a key strength. They are regarded as compassionate and caring individuals with a strong and unwavering commitment to the employees and the community. They were described as being ‘available’ to meet with community groups, actively listening to their concerns, and taking appropriate actions.”

On page 2 it was noted, “The recommendations in this study should be considered as a continuous quality improvement tune-up that can be applied in the year-to-year budget process.”

Also on page 2 City gate noted 5 major areas, “There are, however, five areas that draw particular attention to: (1) sufficient staffing to meet the deployment needs and response time standards for hot and emergency calls; (2) response times for second-in units (backup units); (3) restoring the professional (civilian) staff positions that provide support for key areas such as communications, patrol, and investigations; (4) 9-1-1 answering times in the Communications Center; and (5) appropriate staffing for non-emergency report calls.”

Citygate offered 50 findings and 41 recommendations at the conclusion of its report. Two thirds of its findings are positive and validate the department’s priorities and strategies. Its overall strategic finding #1 is, “Current budgeted vacancies throughout the organization are impacting service delivery, performance standards, and response times.” The overall strategic recommendation #1 is, “Fill the current budgeted vacancies and implement Community Service Officer additions as detailed in Section 1.8.”

Two recommendations are particularly noteworthy. On page 13 Citygate’s recommendation #6 states, “Establish a new CSO classification, capable of performing the recommended duties described above. Augument staffing in Patrol, Investigations and Call Back Unit (CBU) with these positions. Specific to Patrol, we recommend 6 CSOs be added to assist in call load distribution and reduce response times. (CSO staffing recommendations for Investigations and CBU are found in Section 4.”)

The second recommendation of note is the finding that the indirect costs of special events are not reimbursed under current contract agreements with the recommendation to, “examine alternative funding reimbursement mechanisms for special events, especially those conducted at the arena and stadium.”

What do these recommendations mean in English? A Community Service Officer (CSO) is a non-sworn position and would not require graduation from a police training academy. This position would still require some rigorous checks such as a background check, polygraph, psychological, etc. This position would certainly take the more mundane tasks away from sworn officers. They could assist at traffic accidents (which by their very nature are very time consuming for patrol officers). They could perform paperwork and report tasks for investigative officers (also very time consuming) and could handle Call Backs to citizens with regard to minor crimes. In other words this position would free up time for sworn officers to handle more serious tasks. It was recommended that 6 CSO positions be added to patrol and 4 CSO positions to investigations over two years and 2 CSO positions to the CBU. Obviously not all can be added in one year but it is incumbent upon city council to develop a schedule of adding these positions over the next several budget cycles.

The other recommendation of note is that the city does not recapture the costs involved in assisting special events at the arena and stadium. This has been well known by senior staff for years. One had simply to look at the police and fire costs to host the Super Bowl to know that the city has never received full compensation. It is an issue whose time has come. Up to now the police department has been absorbing the unpaid costs. The police department budget is part of the city’s General Fund which means you, the taxpayer, pays for the unrecompensed costs of special events.

Many of the recommendations about further data analysis, the records unit, etc. are being done or have been completed internally.  Other recommendations are under additional evaluation such as the criteria for Priority 2 calls, and the restoration of Detention staffing. Other recommendations will be adopted immediately such as filling current, budgeted vacancies and certifying an investigator for forensic computer analysis.

In summary, the report identified that the Glendale police department’s service delivery is meeting the mark but if we expect it to continue, it cannot be done without recognizing that there are certain staffing areas within the department that will need resources over the next few budget cycles.

On to the Citygate analysis of the Glendale Fire Department provided here Fire HQ Assessment – Volume 1 of 3. Remember last year and the entire dustup about the city’s purchase of a fire engine and the fire union’s assertion that the city was in dire straits because response times were deteriorating? Does the union realize that if it keeps crying wolf at some point the public will no longer believe them. Citygate definitively stated that our fire department’s response times meet the National Fire Protection Association (NPFA) advisory, best practices standard of 7 minutes and recommended its formal adoption.

 Once again, I recognize that the individual firefighters, men and women, are outstanding and deliver caring and efficient service to our community. I thank them for their exceptional service. My only concern has been that the fire union, for too long, has run the department and worked diligently to realize its agenda. That agenda has not always been in the best interests of our community. With the hiring of the new Fire Chief Terry Garrison it appears that his only agenda is to deliver the best service possible to Glendale’s residents. After 5 months on the job he has already proven that he is indeed in charge of Glendale’s fire department. He is to be commended based upon his performance to date.

Citygate says on page 1 of its Executive Summary, “Citygate finds a best practices based agency, with very committed and caring employees, some of the best we have ever met. They take pride in what they do, how they do it, and in taking care of the expensive equipment the City has to provide.”

Just as in Citygate’s analysis of the police department it offered findings and recommendations for the fire department as well.

On page 7 of the Executive Summary recommendation #2 states in part, “Funding should be provided, as soon as possible, to make a two-person low acuity team permanent.” In recommendation #3 on the same page it states, “The Department should work with its Medical Director and the ambulance provider to send only basic (Emergency Medical Technician [EMT], non-paramedic) ambulances to the low acuity incidents. Doing so will further control costs and retain more paramedic-level ambulances for the most serious patient emergencies.”

What does this mean? If you recall I questioned the use of big fire trucks and ladder trucks with a full crew of 4 firefighters responding to medical calls. The wear and tear on the equipment, the cost of use, and the removal of 4 firefighters from service is impractical and costly to the city. I asked that we follow the City of Mesa’s lead and develop a pilot project using a smaller vehicle with a two man team. Thanks to Interim Fire Chief (now back to his position as Assistant Chief) Chris DeChant the implementation of that pilot project began immediately. Apparently it has proven itself and in Fiscal Year 16-17 there will be a request for an additional unit. Kudos to Assistant Chief DeChant.

Another Citygate recommendation is that Fire Prevention develop and implement “an in-depth cost recovery policy,” as well as, “a permit and inspection fee schedule.”

Two critical findings found on page 9 of the Executive Summary identify the need to replace the department’s Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), to replace paramedic cardiac monitor defibrillator units, and to acquire a second set of personal protective equipment for each firefighter. These findings are critical to the health and safety of every firefighter and to the patients they serve. It appears that funding requests for SCBA and protective equipment will be in the Fiscal Year 16-17 budget.

There were two findings that are also critical and must be addressed. One is the department must create a fire apparatus replacement program. The other is the department and the city does not have a capital facilities replacement fund to support capital repairs, replace fire stations or to add new fire stations. These issues must be addressed by senior management.

Another recommendation was the city’s pursuit of a Certificate of Necessity (CON) for city provided ambulance service. I don’t think the city is there yet.  Investigation of the requirements and steps to achieve such are appropriate but it has not proven necessary to acquire a CON yet. City provision of ambulance service is extremely costly despite staff assertions that costs will be covered by those using the city provided service. It never quite comes out that way and will become another major annual cost to taxpayers. Obtaining a CON must be proven to be essential and critical to the city.

Lastly, a recommendation to rehabilitate the city’s pre-emptive traffic control devices is a welcome step. These devices allow public safety to change a red light to green at intersections but will only minimally affect travel time to a scene. It will make intersections safer for public safety personnel as well as citizens. As Citygate observed as Glendale continues to become more urbanized its response times will increase due to the sheer volume of traffic as well as the city’s street grid system.

In summary Citygate did a thorough job of evaluating service delivery to the residents of Glendale. It found that service delivery of both departments is exceptional and their representatives offered that these two departments perform well above other municipal departments. The Citygate representatives were truly impressed with our departments.

Every Glendale resident should be impressed and proud of our police and fire departments. I think many residents do appreciate their service although it is not often expressed unless you happen to be a victim of a crime or a medical emergency. I think it is only then that many people come to realize how truly committed and caring our police and fire employees are. So, for the silent majority…thank you from grateful community.

I offered a great deal of information so I will discuss the Classification and Compensation Study in a separate blog.

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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