Matches for: “staffing” …

The Arizona Republic investigates ASUPD’s staffing issues

Front page reality for Michael Crow

Anne Ryman and Rob O’Dell, investigative reporters from the Arizona Republic, have been digging into our assertions that Arizona State University’s Police Department is understaffed, due in part to low departmental morale (which negatively effects employee retention).


Arizona State University’s Police Department struggled to schedule a full complement of patrol officers, failing to meet its own requirements a majority of the days during the spring semester, The Arizona Republic found.

Six out of seven days during the semester, at least one shift did not have all seven officers scheduled, as ASU police requires to patrol Tempe and three other satellite campuses.

As a result, supervisors had to either pay overtime, reassign someone from another job or leave positions on a shift vacant. The department can’t say how often it left a post empty on any given patrol shift.

MORE: ASU police acquire M-16 assault rifles

Public records, the police chief’s advisory-board documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees paint a picture of an agency that is understaffed for patrol shifts.

It’s not clear whether the staffing shortage affects crime rates. But records and interviews show the department sometimes needs to pull officers from performing other duties, such as criminal investigations and proactive police work like crime prevention, to work patrol shifts.

Former officers have expressed concern about their safety and the safety of students in a report to the police chief and questioned whether the department had the staffing and training to properly respond to a shooter on campus.

That report has a section on morale, where past employees who were interviewed contend the department is “short staffed by 50-80 officers. This is a stressor for the officers that still work there.”

Campus police staffing levels have not kept up with ASU’s enrollment. ASU’s ratio of sworn officers to students is about25 percent below the national average for large, public schools, a national report found.

ASU officials acknowledge there have been staffing challenges but have been hiring to bolster department resources. The police budget was increased for the budget year that began July 1 with a half-dozen new officers hired since then. ASU police officials recently signaled how important it is to have a more visible police presence when they announced they were beefing up patrols following a sexual assault on campus Sept. 9.

Morgan Olsen, ASU’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the university places a priority on having safe and secure campuses, and to his knowledge, public safety hasn’t suffered with the staffing.

Some police agencies reduced staffing during the recession, but ASU didn’t eliminate police officers or aides, he said, even as the university’s state funding was cut 40 percent and ASU eliminated 2,055 jobs in other areas.

“Generally, we’ve been able to maintain coverage and maintain responsiveness,” Olsen said.

ASU President Michael Crow, who has often touted the safety of the campuses, said through a spokesman that Olsen was the appropriate ASU official to speak about police staffing.

In June, Police Chief John Pickens, who had led the department for 14 years, announced that he was transferring to a newly created job in charge of university security initiatives.

An ASU student-safety task force is recommending the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state universities, conduct an independent review of the safety needs at all three state universities. The task force was formed in response to a series of articles in The Republic last September about alcohol-related crimes.

The regents will hear safety recommendations at a meeting this week in Flagstaff.

But one former employee is clear what he believes the university should do: increase staffing.

Retired ASU Sgt. Marvin Tahmahkera compared the daily scheduling of patrol officers to a popular video game in which a player must manipulate random blocks into position before the pieces fall to the bottom.

“Every day it seemed like a game of Tetris. Someone would call in sick,” said Tahmahkera, who retired last year after 22 years with the department.

He recalls responding to a domestic-violence call by himself at ASU’s Polytechnic campus, a situation where law-enforcement best practices say having a backup officer is a necessary precaution. The staffing levels sometimes made it difficult to patrol dorms, look for underage drinkers and rattle doors at night to make sure they were locked.

“Many times I was the officer in charge, and I was just praying nothing would happen that night,” he said.

Short staffing

ASU is the largest public university in the country with 82,000 students, including 13,000 online-only students. The Tempe campus alone covers more than 700 acres with 57,800 students.

A typical patrol shift has seven sworn officers, including a sergeant, to watch over ASU’s four Valley campuses: Tempe, West, Polytechnic and downtown Phoenix.

But on six of every seven days in the spring semester, ASU was unable to schedule the full seven staff officers for at least one of the three daily patrol shifts. The shortage could have been caused by a variety of factors, including officers out sick, on vacation, injured, on family-medical leave or at court.

On more than half of the 151 days examined by The Republic, at least two of the three daily patrol shifts were scheduled to be short staffed. All three shifts were consistently scheduled to be short of staff, The Republic found, with the swing shift beginning in late afternoon the most underscheduled.

ASU police and administrators contend that not every shift had vacancies because they used overtime pay or pulled someone from another job to cover the open position. The university could not say which shifts they were able to cover, saying it would take them weeks to determine if officers actually worked those shifts.

Staffing levels sometimes dipped so low the Tempe campus would have only two officers on staff, according to a report given last year to the police chief based on interviews with police officers and aides.

The university can call surrounding city ­police agencies for backup when help is needed. But officers from another agency are sometimes unfamiliar with the campuses, so it takes them longer to arrive.

Olsen acknowledged that last fall, an unusually high number of people were on family-medical leave for injuries or as new parents, he said. Others had to work more overtime as a result.

“We’ve pretty well worked our way out of that now,” he said. “But we’re continuing to build because we would like to have a force that allows us to do just a little more now than we have been doing.”

The department had 74 full-time officers at the end of the fiscal year. Department officials say they’ve hired six since July and say they plan to hire nine more, which would bring the total to 89 sworn officers and supervisors.

Below U.S. averages

ASU has about 1.1 sworn officers for every 1,000 students, below the national ratio of 1.5 for large, public schools, and below the University of Arizona’s 1.6.

A 2005 survey by the U.S. Department of Justice found larger public schools with more than 15,000 students had 1.5 sworn officers per 1,000 students.

Filling all the budgeted slots would bring ASU up to 1.3.

ASU’s five-member investigative unit has one less person than UA’s, which has 40,000 fewer students and fewer violent crimes.

When 42 police aides are factored in, ASU officials said, the per-student ratio of police to students is higher. The aides help patrol, respond to emergency calls such as minor traffic accidents and take reports on minor thefts. The mostly full-time aides are not required to go through the police academy, they don’t make arrests and they don’t carry guns.

The department plans to hire 20 more police aides this year.

But David Perry, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, said it’s not appropriate to include police aides in the per-student ratios because aides cannot perform all the functions of a sworn officer.

Campus law-enforcement experts say there is no universally accepted method of determining staffing and no “magic” number of officers per student, though enrollment is a key factor. More students means more calls for service, Perry said.

Campus police in some other areas of the country also are grappling with determining the appropriate number of staff.

Last year, Capt. Eric Chin of the Purdue University Police Department surveyed schools in the Big Ten Conference. He found the highest ratio at the private Northwestern University at 2.9 per 1,000 students. Ohio State was the lowest with 0.85 officers per 1,000.

Olsen said ASU uses a more complex calculation than enrollment to determine staffing, including crime trends and the department’s ability to cover the campuses. He said he wouldn’t necessarily characterize the department as being understaffed.

“If you were to go out and ask a particular department in the university, maybe the biology department or the folks who maintain the grounds, ‘Are you understaffed? Could you do more with more people?’ Well, sure, we could do more good things with more people. So that’s not necessarily surprising,” he said.

‘Malls’ for thieves

Whether the staffing shortages affect crime rates is inconclusive.

Crime statistics reported to the federal government under the Clery Act show a mixed picture of ASU’s Tempe campus. The Republic compared ASU with its 15 peer universities along with University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University from 2008 to 2012, the latest data available.

Rates of forcible sexual offenses and robbery have risen at ASU’s Tempe campus, while burglary and aggravated assault rates have fallen or remained the same. ASU’s rates of sexual offenses are lower than most of its peer schools. It has a higher rate of robbery and a much higher rate of aggravated assaults when compared with its peers.

The Republic filed public-records requests July 29 with ASU for police response times and clearance rates for crimes, but the department has not provided the information.

Tahmahkera, the ASU retired sergeant, calls ASU a “big shopping mall for thieves” because of the open nature. A student gets up to get a drink of water and leaves his laptop on a table. He returns to find it gone, including his paper due for class.

The Tempe campus reported 963 thefts and another 98 burglaries, the category that includes bike thefts, in 2012, the most recent year annual statistics are reported to the federal government.

Violent crimes are rare. The Tempe campus reported 16 sexual offenses in 2012. Ten robberies and 10 aggravated assaults occurred on campus that same year.

A larger police force is something the university has planned for several years, ASU’s Olsen said. But like a lot of other things, it didn’t get funded during the recession.

The university would like to have more officers at the downtown Phoenix campus as well as multiple officers on the West and Polytechnic campuses, he said.

Staff discord

Blogs and public comments show conflict within the campus police department.

An anonymous blog called “The Integrity Report” published complaints about working conditions and a supposed clique that runs the department. Then, the video of an ASU officer arresting an African-American professor in May went viral. Civil-rights groups were outraged. An FBI investigation is ongoing into whether the professor’s rights were violated.

ASU declined to make a representative of the Police Department available to speak on the record for this story. But public records show discord within the department.

Last year, then-Chief Pickens reinstated a police chief advisory board to improve communication. At the October meeting, the board heard written concerns from current and former employees. ASU redacted some of the complaints from the minutes,but The Republic obtained complete copies from other sources. Among the deleted comments:

“Outlying campuses often only have one officer on shift at a time.”

“Tempe campus goes down to only two officers on staff often.”

The minutes offer recommendations such as boosting pay and significantly increasing staffing. ASU officials say many changes have already been made. ASU hired a police recruiter earlier this year and raised pay for experienced officers. Retention pay was added to encourage officers to stay. A new police chief is expected to be named soon.

Olsen said the university is trying to do everything possible to foster a good environment, where high-quality people want to work.

Former employees, such as Tahmahkera, hope ASU can turn things around. The key will be recruiting and keeping good employees. Given the right resources, he said, ASU “could be the best police department to work for.”

How ASU’s ratio of sworn officers stacks up to enrollment:

ASU: 1.1 per 1,000 students.

UA: 1.6 per 1,000 students.

U.S. Department of Justice survey: 2.1 per 1,000 students at public colleges and 1.5 per 1,000 for public schools with enrollments of more than 15,000.

Eric Chin, Purdue University Police Department survey in December 2013 of Big Ten Conference schools: Highest ratio was Northwestern University at 2.9 per 1,000. Lowest was Ohio State at .85 per 1,000.

ASU’s ratio excludes 13,000 students who only take classes online and don’t come to campuses.

How we reported the story

The Arizona Republic filed public requests for staffing schedules, police patrols, budgets, meeting minutes and other information related to police staffing from the Arizona State University Police Department, beginning in May. The newspaper compared ASU staffing figures with national studies and data provided by other universities.

One of the documents The Republic received was a breakdown of staffing for the spring semester 2014, which shows how many sworn officers were scheduled to work each of the three patrol shifts and the department-required staffing for that shift. The Republic analyzed the staffing on each of the three patrol shifts and determined that in six out of every seven days, ASU police had at least one shift with a scheduled staff shortage.


Just a few more points to add to Anne’s exceptionally well-researched and well-written article:

  • Morgan Olsen makes excuses for ASUPD’s problems: Dismissing the obivious staffing shortage by claiming that every department at ASUPD could use more staffing is ludicrous. Unlike the two departments Olsen cited–biology and grounds–their staffing levels do not have any impact on the crime rate or safety of the campus. A university CAN function with an understaffed or non-existent biology or grounds department; it can NOT function with an understaffed or non-existent police department.
  • Olsen said “the university is trying to do everything possible to foster a good environment, where high-quality people want to work”: That would mean that the university’s Human Resources department would work with employees who have expressed their concerns with the work environment at ASUPD. Instead, ASU’s HR, Kevin Salcido, has disregarded any employee concerns regarding ASUPD that have been brought to his attention. Salcido has repeatedly refused to intervene in the department’s issues.
  • ASU claims the university has a higher police to student ratio than the numbers the Arizona Republic reported…because ASU included its unarmed, civilian police aides. Police aides are an effective tool, but they are merely support the role of sworn officers; police aides can not make arrests, and they can’t respond to serious calls for service.
  • ASU refused to fully release public documents to the Arizona Republic that prove employees expressed their concerns about staffing to then-Chief Pickens:Meeting minutes, notes, emails are all considered public records that ASU is obligated to fully release upon request (save for a few specific exemptions). Because ASU refused to fully comply with a public records request, they are legally liable for damages that may result from wrongfully denying a person access to public records (A.R.S. § 39-121.02(C))
  • People are paying attention to the situation at ASUPD: Between this article, The Integrity Report, and the viral news article about the arrest of Professor Ore, the university’s problems have become increasingly exposed in a way that hasn’t previously happened. No amount of PR or minimization of the issues can hide ASUPD’s problems now. The only true solution to saving the department is to remove problem employees, and restructure the department from the top down.

Edited to add: We covered the situation with the Chief’s Advisory Board in December 2013. To read the full contents of the meeting minutes, click here.


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The truth behind ASUPD’s staffing numbers!


M Rourke have a staffing or morale problem.

Last night, our friends over at ABC15 published an article which highlighted ASUPD’s lack of staffing, and how the City of Tempe is fed up with  footing the bill for ASU’s problems.

TEMPE, AZ – For years, ASU has borrowed resources from Tempe Police Department and the City of Tempe for special events. However, that free ride will soon come to an end.

Lt. Mike Pooley says Tempe Police Department and the city of Tempe absorb the costs when ASU borrows resources from them.

Often times, Tempe officers help with football games and events.

However, the university and Tempe police department are working on an mutual aid agreement where ASU will pay for the extra resources.

“Right now we’re in the beginning phases of resources that ASU will pay for and what resources Tempe Police Department  will pay for,” said Pooley.

Currently ASU has 78 patrol officers, which is less than the recommended amount for the size of the university.

The 78 officers cover all of ASU’s Tempe, Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix, and West campuses.

According to the President of International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) David Perry, universities are encouraged to follow the same FBI formula for staffing that other city police departments follow. Essentially it’s 2.1 officers per 1,000 students.

According to the equation, ASU should have around 153 patrol officers.

However Perry says the formula can be tricky because often times a college has to deal with the hand it’s given.

“They’re strapped in a tough position between getting the professors, academia and resources they need for the university and at the same time that they can spread those funds out.”

Besides the FBI equation, a university can also determine its staffing levels based on environmental factors, enrollment size and how many properties it has.

ASU declined multiple on-camera interviews from ABC-15 on this matter.

Michelle Rourke, a spokeswoman for ASU gave the following data for patrol officers at ASU:

July 2014 – total sworn: 78

January 2014 – total sworn: 74

July 2013 –  total sworn: 66

July 2012 –total sworn: 65

Julie Newberg, also with ASU, released this statement:

“ASU is working in close conjunction with the Tempe Police Department on numerous efforts to address student safety. These include the party patrol, Safe and Sober campaign, DUI taskforce and traffic enforcement. The Tempe Police Department will join ASU Police Department personnel on campus for back-to-school and move-in events to convey safety messages to students.”

It’s about time ASU ponies up cash to pay Tempe PD for all the resources the city expends during football season! Most of the traffic control–from directing traffic in pedestrian heavy intersections to closing down roads–occurs within Tempe’s jurisdiction. It’s extra time, money, and staffing Tempe has to spend to ensure an event that they receive NO funding for and doesn’t even occur in their jurisdiction runs smoothly. If the tables were turned and ASU had to foot the bill for another municipality, you better believe money-hungry ASU would ask to be reimbursed. Therefore, it is only fair that ASU stops mooching off the city, and pays Tempe PD for using its resources. After all, it’s not Tempe’s fault ASUPD can’t properly staff its special events.

As for the lack of staffing on ASU’s four campuses, you might recall in January, we posted a link to a Department of Justice study that analyzed staffing at university/college campuses. In the post, we illustrated how grossly understaffed ASUPD in comparison to the student populous. ABC15 recently revisited this issue, and also asked ASU officials to comment on the low staffing numbers for the PD. In lieu of agreeing to an on-camera interview, the university released a vague”statement”, and interim Assistant Chief Michele Rourke released the staffing numbers to ABC15.

What “Assistant Chief” Rourke failed to mention, however, is how ASUPD doesn’t really have 78 “patrol officers” because the majority of the people in the aforementioned number are assigned to duties OTHER THAN patrol!

The 78 officers that work patrol incorporates: 7 officers in training who are NOT able to work as solo units; 3 chiefs, 5 commanders, 17 sergeants, a K9 handler, 3 detectives, a special events officer, and a crime prevention officer…NONE of which engage in regular, routine patrol duties as one of the primary functions of their jobs! The vast majority of these positions are either supervisory in nature or incorporate desk work for the majority of the work day, so they aren’t “on patrol”.

When you subtract the new officers, administrators, supervisors, and people assigned to other duties, you’re left with about 40 officers to patrol 4 campuses twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That number also doesn’t account for officers who may be out on sick leave, vacation, training, comp time, etc. Therefore, at any given time in the BEST case scenario, ASUPD has a mere 40 officers on patrol. THAT’S IT!

For the largest public university in the country with crime rates on the rise, only having 40 officers working in a patrol capacity is unacceptable! Promoting more and more people to interim positions in an already top-heavy department is operational suicide; there needs to be LESS administrators and MORE boots on the ground. This staffing issue has morphed from a nuisance to a legal liability, and unfortunately, it will only get worse until ASUPD retains competent leadership.

When shit hits the fan on patrol, is Thompson or Rourke going to be rolling code for backup? After all, that would require they find/wear their duty weapons, leave the comfort of their air conditioned office, and actually get their shiny patent leather boots dirty.

Here’s a redacted current schedule for Days and Nights that shows the truth of the staffing issue on the four Arizona State University campuses. The 400 badge numbers are not patrol units. The 500 badge numbers not available for patrol are noted.

ASU Police Day Schedule

ASU Police Nights Schedule


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Updated: ASUPD’s staffing…by the numbers!

We wanted to provide an update to several posts where we discussed ASUPD’s alarming staffing numbers (check out a few here and here). The current staffing numbers were provided courtesy of ASUPD’s roster following shift bid. It’s important to note that these numbers are only for sworn employees and do NOT include investigations nor Sergeant rank and above.

To patrol ALL of ASU’s four campuses (Tempe, Downtown, West, and Polytechnic), for a total of over 76,000 students, ASUPD has a grand total of 45 bodies assigned to patrol. Of those 45, 12 are Sergeants (supervisors who may not be patrolling the campus), and 5 Corporals. When those “supervisory” positions are factored out of the equation, that leaves 28 officers to patrol 76,000 students. The current staffing setup relies on the fact that none of these people assigned to patrol will get sick, injured, take FMLA leave, take military leave, and be forced to go on leave for purposes of IA.

28 officers is INSANE! According to the DoJ, ASU should have 2.1 sworn officers for every 1,000 students. ASUPD isn’t even REMOTELY close to that officer/student ratio.

For any students, parents, or members of the media reading…you should be extremely disturbed by these numbers. These numbers, unfortunately, keep getting lower due to recruits “failing” out of FTO, or laterals quitting as soon as they step in the door.

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Another day, another ASUPD staffing concern!

Another decent ASUPD employee left the department today, which has been a routine occurrence in light of the ongoing staffing crisis transpiring at the department.

The Commander over the Tempe Campus, K. Williams left ASUPD today with only two days notice (presumably for greener pastures). Commander Williams was a seasoned 20 year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, and managed to survive ASUPD for only four years! This should speak volumes about the type of toxic work environment that exists throughout the department…even amongst members of Command staff!

Best of luck in your new ventures, Williams. We hope you go to a department that appreciates your experience and education.

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Can ASUPD effectively handle a major incident (assault/attemped kidnapping of ASU student) with low staffing?

Approximately a week ago, a woman was assaulted while running in the area of Lot 59 (possibly an attempted kidnapping?). At a competent police department, a perimeter would be set up to locate the suspect, photographs of the victim’s injuries would be documented, and the victim and any possible witnesses would interviewed as soon as possible.

At ASUPD, however, you are required to do all those things with only TWO OFFICERS AVAILABLE at Tempe campus, assuming one doesn’t get shifted to another campus for coverage (as an aside, there were TWO supervisors working to supervise those TWO officers!). There were a total of FIVE sworn between the FOUR campuses!! Check out a copy of the schedule here: schedule 2.

This is UNACCEPTABLE. Not only can the lack of officers impede the search for the suspect, one major incident could tie up all the available units on campus. Had the suspect attacked another victim elsewhere on campus, ASUPD would be completely incapacitated.

This is a prime example of the staffing crisis ASUPD has been experiencing for nearly seven months now, and its solution of “throwing more bodies at the problem” hasn’t worked due to ASUPD’s FTO program (two more officers were recently washed out). How many more of these incidents need to transpire before someone realizes ASUPD cannot effectively manage its own people and resources?

Until ASUPD manages to fix itself–either freely or by force–we will continue to post schedules, memos, documents, etc which highlight how unsafe and mismanaged ASUPD is. The next step is to begin submitting FOIA requests for ASUPD’s financial records, emails, and personnel files, as well as moving up the food chain toward Morgan Olsen, Kevin Salcido, and ultimately, Michael Crow.

We will continue to air the misdeeds and inaction on the part of ASUPD’s Command Staff (Chief Pickens; Assistant Chiefs Hardina and Thompson; and Commanders Orr, Scichilon, Willams, and Rourke) until the department’s problems are resolved or members of Command Staff start to throw in the towel–whichever comes first.

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ASUPD’s recruiting brochure: trying to “fix” the department by throwing more staffing at the problem

As part of ASUPD’s desperate effort to “fix” the department, ASUPD has focused the majority of its time and energy on bolstering staffing; this has included hiring a recruiter, establishing an employee referral program, and also producing a recruitment video. Additionally, ASUPD also quietly produced and distributed a formal recruitment brochure filled with the same half-truths contained within the training video.

While this is certainly not groundbreaking information, it perfectly illustrates the attitude the university/Command staff has about the current problems in the PD: instead of reprimanding or removing problem employees that hurt morale and cause people to leave, we will throw more staffing at the problem and hope that it goes away.

Clearly the department has put forth more effort producing recruitment materials than it ever has actually managing people and improving the department from within.

Check out the brochure here.

Comment below with your thoughts!


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ASUPD’s current staffing…by the numbers!

Just how bad is ASUPD’s current staffing situation? Pretty bad.

Out of the 14 days of the schedule we posted, 7 of those days were below minimum staffing (with Saturday, 02/15/14 having only FOUR officers working. That’s only one officer PER campus!)

The green outlined boxes illustrate either days when officers are moved from their primary campus to cover another campus, or a shift filled by an overtime position.

The yellow outlined boxes illustrate days where staffing is below the minimum requirements.

It is also worth pointing out there are a significant amount of officers taking sick/comp/vacation time…perhaps due to burnout? How much longer will the Chief attempt to “fix” the staffing problem at the expensive of his employees?

All the meetings that have been transpiring on the third floor have yet to bring about any actual change to the current staffing problems. ASUPD is currently operating on a “best case scenario”; if something very serious were to happen, ASUPD wouldn’t be able to function.

Chief Pickens, you owe it to your officers and the community you “serve” to fix this problem; running your employees into the ground will only cause MORE of a staffing crisis as more people seek to leave ASUPD.


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GA public safety chief resigns over police staffing

Interesting how in other jurisdictions, mismanaging your police staffing would elicit such a strong response from other public officials. Conversely, at ASU, the department and university have known about chronically low staffing issues for years, and no public official in a position to handle the situation has addressed this issue. 


By Dan Klepal
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Cobb County’s top public safety official resigned Monday with acidic four-page letter to county manager David Hankerson, alleging that police staffing levels are dangerously low and that Hankerson and other county officials refuse to do anything about it, even though they have known about the problem for more than a year.

Jack Forsythe, director of the county’s Department of Public Safety, also said in the letter that the Atlanta Braves new stadium will exacerbate the problem if the county doesn’t add more officers.

“For over a year now, the decision to increase the police department’s authorized strength has been delayed or denied by continuing to request additional information that … is not available, or (by) requests of duplicate information that has already been presented,” the Jan. 6 letter says.

Forsythe went on to write that Hankerson has stonewallled his effort to commission a study that would document the need for more officers. Cobb’s police department has more than 600 sworn officer and 150 civilian employees. Forsythe also was in charge of the county’s fire department, 911 operations and animal control unit.

“You have stated that the county is not ready for what the report will say nor can the county afford the number of officers the report will say we need, therefore the study has not been given approval from your office to proceed even after I was directed” by Commission Chairman Tim Lee to have it completed, the letter says.

Forsythe’s resignation takes effect Jan. 24 but he is on leave until then. Hankerson will recommend to the Cobb County Commission that Fire Chief Sam Heaton replace him permanently. Heaton served as interim public safety director from August 2010 through January 2013, and will again handle the job on an interim basis until the commission acts on the recommendation.

Lee did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the resignation and the allegations in the letter. The county’s public relations office released statements by Hankerson and Lee Monday night, but neither addressed the substance of the letter.

Forsythe’s performance appraisal for 2013 shows that he was given a “meets requirements” designation in all areas of his job, and for his overall performance.

However, the appraisal noted: “Communication with County Manager and the office is very poor. This area needs improvement more than any other area.” It also noted that Forsythe missed public safety related events in the community “without any communication to the County Manager.”

Forsythe’s letter also hints at friction between him and Hankerson.

“You … stated that I don’t do things the Cobb Way,” Forsythe’s letter to Hankerson says. “It appears the Cobb Way is not to disagree or buck the current procedures, regardless of the validity or legality of the Cobb Way process.”

Forsythe worked as a senior law enforcement official for NASA from 2003-11. He was working as a consultant from 2011 until hired by the county in December 2012.

Forsythe’s letter also complains about his salary, which he says is “$30,000 below the national average.” But the major thrust is the lack of police manpower.

Public safety in Cobb County has suffered from a lack of sufficient funding and resources to properly sustain the appropriate level of personnel, facilities and equipment needed to provide an adequate level of protection for the citizens,” the letter says. “This lack of support for public safety over the years has increased officer safety issues, reduced the number of officers available for calls, increased fire response times and ultimately (led to) the degradation of the morale of all public safety personnel.”

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ASUPD acquires new scheduling software to fix staffing problems; meanwhile, the PD continues to fall apart!

In light of all the negative issues that have been brought to Chief Pickens’ attention–poor morale, mismanagement–he has decided to ignore the input in order to focus his efforts on implementing a new staff software!!


ASU Police Department chooses ScheduleAnywhere employee scheduling software to improve scheduling efficiency.

Atlas Business Solutions, Inc. announced today that Arizona State University (ASU) is now using ScheduleAnywhere to improve and streamline its staff scheduling process. The campus police department chose ScheduleAnywhere as its officer scheduling software solution to improve the coordination and communication of shift schedules and improve operations. ScheduleAnywhere allows the ASU Police Department to continue its commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment to live, work, study, and conduct research.

“We’re pleased to have the ASU Police Department join the growing number of law enforcement departments using ScheduleAnywhere,” said Jon Forknell, Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions. “ASU is a flagship department that’s accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and we couldn’t be prouder of our selection.”

The ASU Police Department completed the transition from Microsoft Excel to ScheduleAnywhere about a month ago. With a staff of over 100 officers, the police department had a difficult time managing staff schedules and keeping track of availability. With ScheduleAnywhere staff scheduling software:

  • Updates to schedules are real-time and shared across the department.
  • Reporting and tracking vacations, time-off requests and availability is simple.
  • Existing staff can be better utilized.
  • Officers can access schedules online anywhere, anytime.

Another reason ASU chose to implement ScheduleAnywhere is because of its enterprise-wide visibility. Enterprise-wide visibility plays a vital role in larger organizations, where multiple people need real-time access to schedule information. In addition to regular staffing, ScheduleAnywhere is used to schedule security for all campus events, such as football games, parades, or ceremonies.

So apparently the department has had a difficult time managing schedule because they have SO many officers. REALLY!? I doubt there are even 100 sworn left in the department; when command staff is excluded, the number of people actually working the street is frighteningly low. How in the HELL will this “improve operations”? Chief, you don’t need a computer program to tell you what you already know…that the department is ridiculously understaffed, and no amount of computer wizardry will change that. Here’s a hint: START LISTENING TO WHAT YOUR EMPLOYEES ARE SAYING, INSTEAD OF SINKING MORE $$ INTO A COMPUTER PROGRAM YOU BELIEVE WILL SAVE YOUR DEPARTMENT!

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ASUPD’s temporary solution to staffing issues? Let the support service officers handle it!

Many officers have been unhappy lately with the departments’ slow, knee jerk reaction to the staffing crisis which is crippling police services at all four campuses.

The first solution was to ignore all the unhappy officers who were getting burnt out from the lack of officer staffing at ASUPD. Next, the solution to fixing the staffing problem was to try and hire every individual with a pulse who was referred by a current ASU employee. After these two plans failed miserably, ASUPD decided to now recall the support services officers to fill the gaps in the schedule. WHAT!

Instead of having your extraneous “specialty” assignments help out patrol (K9, the two officers assigned to Tempe Bike Patrol, the detective assigned to work with TPD, the Sergeant’s over various desk positions), you have the few detectives you DO have respond to calls “when patrol gets backed up”. How is that effective? Another idea…how about Command staff start shagging calls and running traffic?


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