$50,000 study reveals Sunnyside PD needs more than just a few tweaks

A lean, mean, well oiled machine the Sunnyside Police Department is not. That much, at least, can be gleaned from a copy of the 133-page draft of the performance and management review that was released late last week.

Throughout the seven chapters of the detailed study, the local police department is dinged from top to bottom...from not having an effective chain of command in place, to putting less than fully trained officers on the streets, to not utilizing the existing resources in the community and to allowing unchecked, rampant spending to occur via officers working unwarranted overtime hours.

The study and analysis of the local police department, completed at a cost of about $50,000, was commissioned by the Sunnyside City Council in May 2011. MGT of America was selected several months later by city leaders to complete the study, with work commencing on the project in late September of last year.

In the final chapter of the lengthy report, MGT came to several general conclusions, including the revelation that "...while the department is currently enjoying the wide support of the community and its council, such unfettered spending without an increased level of accountability is unsustainable." MGT notes its understanding for the need for some increase to the police department budget, but that such increases when the rest of the city is experiencing drastic cuts " unreasonable especially in the long term."

MGT also concluded the most important component of this study is the need for the police department to develop benchmarks by which the community and city leaders can measure its success.

"As such, the department should undertake a series of actions that would help maximize the efficiency of its current staff and ensure that unnecessary expenditures are eliminated going forward." Specifically, notes the MGT consultant team, the most important of these actions is to develop a strategic plan and include performance measures in the city's current gang elimination strategy.

"In doing such," MGT concludes, "the city and its citizens could then hold the department accountable for its increased budget and ensure that the citizens' tax dollars are well spent."

MGT also concluded that the need for performance measures and the resulting accountability is even more important given a recent reduction in crime, which team members said many in the city attribute to the increased staffing levels at the Sunnyside Police Department. The MGT team suggests a different story, however, based on recent statistics disseminated by the FBI through its Uniform Crime Report.

Those figures suggest that despite substantial decreases in public safety budgets, violent crime in the first half of 2011 was down 6.4 percent nationwide compared to the same time period in 2010, while the number of property crimes for the same period dropped 3.7 percent.

MGT concluded, as well, that the police department should be held accountable, be required to remain transparent to taxpayers, "...and spend the hard earned tax dollars of its citizens in a prudent manner."

Furthermore, the study team writes in its final wrap-up of the lengthy review, "It is the responsibility of city leadership to ensure that its limited resources are distributed in a fair, equitable and thoughtful way so as to make sure no one city service or department suffers as a result of the misstated needs of another."

The MGT consultant team on the Sunnyside PD study consisted of the firm's partner-in-charge, Bob Lauder, project manager Alan Pollock, staff consultant Chad Lersch from MGT's Austin, Texas office and independent consultants Ron Glensor, a 35-year veteran in law enforcement who retired as assistant chief of police in Reno, Nev., and Bruce Mills, who also had a lengthy career in police work and retired as assistant chief of police in Austin, Texas.

In analyzing the Sunnyside Police Department's operations, as requested by city leaders, MGT specifically addressed the organizational and management structure of the local PD, the use of overtime, the existence and use of performance measures, and the police department's overall accountability to city administrators and its leaders.

The study was pieced together by not only reviewing available data, but by making two on-site visits, including an initial week-long visit, participating in several "ride-alongs," taking a comprehensive tour of the facilities and conducting numerous phone interviews.

The study is broken down into seven chapters, the first an introduction and the last the final conclusions. In between are five chapters, entitled Comparable Agency Analysis, Organization and Management, Patrol Operations, Support, and Detention.

The Daily Sun News in the days ahead will present an in-depth look into those five chapters. In each chapter the study team singles out the weaknesses and deficiencies of the local police department, and what should be done to rectify those problems.

MGT also uses this study to commend the Sunnyside Police Department for its procedures and tactics that the study team finds proper and beneficial.


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