The Police Chief was reacting to comments from the police union and council members during the past week. The department is facing staffing shortages because of retirements and an increased population due to Hurricane Katrina. Hurtt says $4 million is dedicated to an overtime program that began last month. He says the program will be monitored.
Hurtt says they are exploring the idea of hiring retired officers. It would cost $3 to $5 million a year. Another idea is to pre-hire cadets to work in the jails. The classified officers currently assigned there would be able to return to patrol. Hurtt says response times for the most important calls is at 4.8 minutes. He says response times to lesser calls has increased because of the emphasis placed on priority one calls. Other initiatives the department is looking at including staggering shifts to prevent a backlog of calls at the end of shifts. The department is also looking at a system to allow the public to report minor offenses on-line. Hurtt says that could be up and running before the end of next year.