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Audit on police patrol deployment blackout analysis released

Today, the City Auditor’s Office released a report on blackout in police patrol deployment. “Blackout” refers to periods when all patrol officers assigned to respond to calls for service in a division are busy and cannot respond to an additional call. This audit follows up on findings in the office’s 1998 audit of blackout analysis.

The audit concludes that blackout remains significant in all patrol divisions although blackout patterns have changed within divisions. Calls for service have increased for all patrol divisions, with North Division experiencing an almost 60 percent increase compared to the original audit. Response times vary among divisions. On average, Central Division had the fastest response time, while the North Division had the slowest for all types of calls.

The Police Department no longer measures blackout. Instead, it measures immediate car unavailability – a type of blackout that occurs much less frequently and for shorter periods of time. The audit recommends the department measure and report blackout instead of immediate car unavailability because blackout measures any time a car is not available to respond to a call. The police chief disagrees with the recommendation because he feels that immediate car unavailability is a better tool to use when examining the department’s performance.

This report should be accessible from by 3 p.m. on Sept. 1.

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