Fighting crime on a dime
This story is one in a series — Behind the Badge: Yuma Police Department — that looks behind the scenes at issues facing the YPD.
The economic downturn has forced the Yuma Police Department to go from being proactive to reactive. There are less officers patrolling the streets, but calls for service are up, which means there are fewer officers to respond to those calls.
The result is that officers now have to cram more into a shift.
"Officers lack time. They’re going from call to call," Capt. Rod Hamilton said. "A call might take 15 minutes to get there. It takes another few minutes to find out why they’re there. Then the investigation begins and they collect evidence and they go out to try to find the suspect."
An officer could spend up to four hours at scene. Back at the station, the officer must write numerous reports, enter suspect information, look at photos, etc.
In addition, Hamilton noted, Yuma provides more services than other departments. Some large departments no longer respond to minor accidents due to a lack of manpower.
"We still do. It stretches us but the community expects it," he said.
Although the department has 163 officers, not all are on the streets. Some are administrative, others are attending the academy. Some are still paired up. Detectives are not first responders. That leaves the department with 60 first responders to cover a whole week, 24 hours, seven days a week.
"We trying to up the number of first responders, but when we expand one area we have to expand other areas – support roles. We want to expand in a strategic, well-thought pattern," Hamilton said.
Nevertheless, "we have to continue to expand because this community is expanding."