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2:10 PM Sun, Oct. 21st

Slower response times worry police chief

Kingman Police respond to a barricaded suspect in this April 2015 file photo.

Kingman Police respond to a barricaded suspect in this April 2015 file photo.

KINGMAN – The Kingman Police Department is hitting its response goals, but Police Chief Bob DeVries is wary of the future without more officers on board.

“The amount of times that we have a full shift are more infrequent than they are frequent. That’s what concerns me,” said DeVries, of his 56-person sworn staff.

“From a safety standpoint, we need to have the staffing out there and the people available to assist,” said DeVries, who has to juggle the schedule with injuries, sick time, vacation time, court time and training duties while keeping staffing up to ensure the public’s safety.

“In 2015, our call volume was up 10 percent in comparison to 2014. This year we are tracking almost 15 percent (up),” said DeVries. “I would need four new officers at a minimum,” he said, and he plans to ask for the extra officers when it comes time for the next budget.

The police department is estimating 36,000 total calls for service in fiscal year 2015-16, with around 3,500 estimated arrests.

The police department has been able to hit its response time goals, with an under five-minute response time for emergencies (80 percent of the time,) and nonemergencies (70 percent of the time).

Kingman Police Department currently has to hand-cull data, but that will soon change as new software is implemented, and it is on its way, said DeVries.

Digital forensics

DeVries said he could also use, in addition to the four new officers, another officer trained in digital forensics, as many crimes they see nowadays involve cell phones, tablets and computers. He said KPD’s current digital detective is falling behind because of the increase in those types of crimes.

“Our responsibilities have not decreased by any means, they have increased. It continues to be a challenge for us,” said DeVries.

DeVries said he is also concerned about keeping the staff he has.

“We’re way out of sync in regards to comparable cities,” said DeVries.

DeVries, who has been in his position since 2003, said where he came from, a city in Michigan, they had similar staffing levels, but the area was smaller.

“Where I came from, we pretty much had the same type of staff and personnel and we covered 17 square miles. We have that same staffing level covering 34 square miles,” said DeVries.

“I think the officers do a good job based upon the sheer magnitude of the geography we have to cover,” DeVries said.

The police department has the city divided into five sections, or beats. They have been established based on number of calls for service and geography, both man-made and natural.

When it comes to response times, area No. 3, which is in the eastern part of the city east of the railroad tracks, is proving to be the most formidable challenge, the chief said. When, and if, Devries has the opportunity to hire new officers, the area will be divided in half.

During the day DeVries said it is not uncommon for himself, the deputy chief (Rusty Cooper) and lieutenants being out in the field assisting officers simply because they often become taxed out on resources.

Mutual aid

DeVries said he was grateful for the mutual aid his department has received, pointing out the recent improvised explosive devices found at the Zuni RV Park.

He said the crime scene lasted 36 hours, and without the help of law enforcement from Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City, Mohave County, and the state, Kingman would have been seriously affected.

DeVries said when he gets on the phone to call for mutual aid, the only questions other law enforcement entities ask is when, where and how many personnel does he need.

Jennifer Sochocki, support services administrator for KPD, said the mutual aid goes across any level. If she needs help with records, she can call surrounding jurisdictions and receive immediate help.

“We all work together,” said Sochocki.