APD wants to hire 400 officers in a effort to change policing strategy

APD leaders are asking city council to hire hundreds of more officers. They want enough staff to where officers will have time to get out of the patrol car and spend time talking to the citizens they serve. It's called community policing.

APD Officer Rafael Kianes is checking in on a business owner along Rundberg.

"I've been noticing everything looks a lot better now. I mean I'm not seeing so many people running up and down. I'm finding less syringes around here. Having to run less people off. Good. Good. Well if you need us let us know, we'll be back."

It's been one year since a community policing team was formed as part of the restore Rundberg project.

Officers are conducting a survey to track their progress. They're asking those who live and work here how they view their safety as compared to one year ago.

"She was saying she does still feel there are drug dealers in the area, but she does feel safer, but at night she says she sees drug dealers in the area," said Kianes. "We're going to explain that to our patrol units and then when we're working later on, the walking beat later on we're going to go looking in the area she's talking about and see what we can find and if there's anything we can address, we'll address it."

Success for these officers is not judged by the arrests they make, but rather the amount of contacts they have with the people they serve. They've made 13-thousand.

"We become over time one team as opposed to you're the police, we're the community members. We're all together," Kianes said.

"It's getting out of the car with a purpose."

Assistant Chief Troy Gay wants all officers to be able to carry out this concept of policing.

To do so, he's asking the city to approve the hiring of 410 officers over the course of five years.

"The research out there shows that 30 to 50 percent of an officer's time should be devoted to community policing to truly make an impact on community policing," said Gay.

He says as of now, staffing only allows for officers to spend 13 to 15 percent of their time on community policing.

"If we don't have the relationships, then we don't know what we need therefore we cannot make any change whatsoever."

Last year the department hired 59 officers. This proposed plan would add 82 officers per year.

Since adopting the community policing concept, Officer Kianes says they've seen a 50% decrease theft and burglaries of vehicles, an 80% decrease in prostitution calls, 67% decrease in disturbances and a 50% decrease in aggravated assaults around Rundberg.

"I know that the mobile walking beat in this area has helped. I can only imagine that would help the city out,"

Under this community policing proposal, it will cost $10.2 million per year for the additional officers.
City council is set to approve the budget for the upcoming year in mid-September.