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I need help with a proposal to my department to go to 2-man patrol units

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  • I need help with a proposal to my department to go to 2-man patrol units

    Hi there,

    So our Chief has asked us for ideas on how we can improve officer safety in light of the recent events with ISIS/ISIL, the ambushes, the protestors, etc, etc.

    I wanted to submit a proposal suggesting that we go from single officer patrol cars to 2-man units to increase the use of Contact/Cover. Does anyone have any experiences with a proposal like this? For departments that have 2-man units what are the pros, what are the cons? How can I sell this to my department? Should I be trying to sell this to my department?

    I know that one of the big arguments against two man units is "efficiency." The assumption is that you'd be taking two officers off the street when only one is needed for certain tasks: jail transport, CSI work, single officer calls (which in our department are few and far between anymore.) However, I think that I can sell that with most of these calls, the workload can be divied up between the two officers (once the scene is secure) and you can end up being pretty quick with most calls and can get back in service ASAP. Also, if we can increase officer safety, wouldn't it be worth a little bit of loss in efficiency.

    Department Stats:

    City Population: 150,000
    Sworn Personnel: 250 officers
    Patrol Officers: ~110
    Command Staff, Investigations, Special Teams: 140

    City is divided into two districts with each district divided into 5 beats with at least one car in each beat per shift (ideally)

    We have ten patrol teams divided into 5 watches for 24/7 coverage:

    Watch I - 0600 - 1600
    Watch II - 0900 - 2100
    Watch III - 1400 - 0000
    Watch IV - 1900 - 0500
    Watch V - 2100 - 0700

    Any thoughts or help on this project would be much appreciated! Thanks so much!

  • #2
    I don't have experience with "two man units" as I've been a deputy sheriff my entire in a fairly rural area- hence no TMUs.
    However, in looking at the data you supplied, it appears you department could definitely put some TMUs on the road.

    Your department has 250 officers total.
    110 are patrol, and 140 command staff, investigations, and special teams..
    Hmmmm, I may be wrong, but that looks top heavy- too many chiefs and not enough Indians kind of thing.

    Can you break down the 140?
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    • #3
      First, don’t misunderstand what I’m about to tell you. I like the idea of two man units. However, there are a lot of considerations that go into this.

      Having two officers work together allows you to watch each other’s back. However, there are studies out there that suggest because officers feel safer working in pairs, they tend to become complacent and the safety edge is lost. I can’t point to these studies by name, but someone who opposes two man units will no doubt find them to argue against your proposal.

      There is another consideration as well. Working two man units cuts the number of cars on the street in half and doubles a patrol car’s patrol area. This increases response time to calls for service. Police critics will seize on this and your Chief is going to have to effectively defend what may turn out to be a 50% reduction in service to the public. If the public has to choose between your safety being endangered or their safety being endangered, they will offer you up like a sacrificial lamb in a heartbeat, figuring this is why they are paying you’re the big bucks. And because most Chiefs serve at the pleasure of the city council, mayor and city manager, getting them to do something that appears to be reducing public safety may be difficult.

      If your Chief is privately favorable to two man units, the best way to push it and let him off the hook politically is to negotiate it as part of your union’s labor contract with the city. That way it is officially out of the Chief’s hands.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

      Comment


      • #4
        Two man units are a hard sell because a perpetual priority for all departments is reduced response times, especially to priority one calls. Obviously a two man unit will be detrimental to that.

        In my last department, we went to two man units following the economic meltdown and subsequent layoffs. With cover being more sparse, our administration implemented two man units to ensure officers had a cover unit available at all times. With less officers on the street and the remaining ones being paired up, our response times skyrocketed and the public was not happy about it. I think a huge part of the decision was political to make the public feel what it is like to have less officers on the street as a result of layoffs.

        I don't know the politics of your area, but going to a two man unit is not as efficient in terms of public response and is a hard sell for a city manager to sign off on. And to be honest, the recent protests, ISIL/ISIS, ambushes, etc. are not reason enough for me to make a switch from single man units to two man. It is a kneejerk reaction to current events and is not necessary. Cops have been targeted long before we got into law enforcement and will continue to be during our careers and after.

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        • #5
          Following L-1's train, there is also a belief that TOU's have the individual members being emboldened to step over lines because they know they have ready back up, rather than the OOU taking time to assess response and contact. Then again, the OOU can get into a lot of trouble by themselves because there's no witness. It's really a coin toss and sorry, I've not helped you any.
          "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

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          • #6
            I do not feel TOUs will allow an equal sharing of the workload and a quicker "back in service" time. The officers will talk, compare notes about what the other officer did or said, they will review the witness statements they gathered, etc. Personally, I don't see a TOU spending any less time on a call than a one officer unit.

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            • #7
              First you have to convince the bosses that response time is secondary to safety.
              September 11, 2001 - All gave some, some gave all. Never forget -- Never forgive.......... RIP Brothers and Sisters.

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              • #8
                We moved away from 2 man units long before I got hired on, which was a while ago. The more rapid response time solo units provide made the decision.
                To the OP: One other problem I see with your proposal is 5 different shifts. That seems unnecessarily complicated. Supervisors need to work the same shift as their troops, so now you've probably created the need for additional supervisory positions. If pool cars are involved all those overlapping shifts become even more difficult. You would need to get it down to 3 different shifts. Maybe 4, but probably 3.
                Anything worth shooting is worth shooting 3 or 4 times.

                M-11

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ReconDT View Post
                  Hi there,

                  So our Chief has asked us for ideas on how we can improve officer safety in light of the recent events with ISIS/ISIL, the ambushes, the protestors, etc, etc.

                  I wanted to submit a proposal suggesting that we go from single officer patrol cars to 2-man units to increase the use of Contact/Cover. Does anyone have any experiences with a proposal like this? For departments that have 2-man units what are the pros, what are the cons? How can I sell this to my department? Should I be trying to sell this to my department?

                  I know that one of the big arguments against two man units is "efficiency." The assumption is that you'd be taking two officers off the street when only one is needed for certain tasks: jail transport, CSI work, single officer calls (which in our department are few and far between anymore.) However, I think that I can sell that with most of these calls, the workload can be divied up between the two officers (once the scene is secure) and you can end up being pretty quick with most calls and can get back in service ASAP. Also, if we can increase officer safety, wouldn't it be worth a little bit of loss in efficiency.

                  Department Stats:

                  City Population: 150,000
                  Sworn Personnel: 250 officers
                  Patrol Officers: ~110
                  Command Staff, Investigations, Special Teams: 140

                  City is divided into two districts with each district divided into 5 beats with at least one car in each beat per shift (ideally)

                  We have ten patrol teams divided into 5 watches for 24/7 coverage:

                  Watch I - 0600 - 1600
                  Watch II - 0900 - 2100
                  Watch III - 1400 - 0000
                  Watch IV - 1900 - 0500
                  Watch V - 2100 - 0700

                  Any thoughts or help on this project would be much appreciated! Thanks so much!
                  Not knowing anything about your department and what your call volume is like and what duties are required of your patrol teams, it appears to me from what you have posted that each patrol team is 11 officers working 4 - 10 hour shifts. With that being said, there is overlap with the various patrol teams but each patrol team is running:

                  5 cars 2 days of the week
                  6 cars 2 days of the week
                  7 cars 2 days of the week
                  8 cars 1 day of the week

                  Now this doesn't account for leave, sick and things like that but pound for pound that is what each patrol team should have (based on what you posted). By going to 2 man cars you are giving each patrol team:

                  3 cars 4 days of the week
                  4 cars 3 days of the week

                  Understand that in that plan there will be some 1 person cars on certain days of the week just because of an odd number of officers. Your department may save a lot of fuel and car related expenses but I am going to bet that the officers will feel an increased work load because going from a high of 8 cars down to a high of 4 cars will be felt and probably noticed.

                  Comment

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