Fort Worth police chief warns: City needs more cops

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by MARCUS MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarcusMoorewfaa

WFAA

Posted on April 10, 2012 at 10:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 2:46 AM

FORT WORTH - Strong words and a warning came from Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead.

In an e-mail obtained by News 8, the chief told city leaders, "We simply need more police officers in patrol and in our investigative assignments due to massive growth of our city."

He pointed to data showing that response times have increased in the past two years and so has call volume, while the number of patrol officers remains at a "low level."

According to recent data, response times for priority-1 calls from August 1, 2009 to July 30, 2010 was six minutes and five seconds. From October 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011, the time was up to six minutes and 52 seconds.

In an effort to reduce response times and manage the city’s crime rate during the busy summer, the chief is implementing several strategies.

"We're trying to come up with creative ideas and creative initiatives in order to address these concerns," said Major Paul Henderson with the Fort Worth police.

Beginning this summer, detectives will work patrol, neighborhood police officers answer calls, and school security officers will patrol streets.

But Chief Halstead warned that it won’t be a permanent fix to the challenges he said the department is facing. At City Hall Tuesday, city leaders applauded the chief’s efforts to address the staffing challenges.

"I think the police department has done a very good job of taking the resources they've got and deploying them in an effective manner," said councilman Zim Zimmerman.

Still, city leaders stopped just short of committing to hiring more patrol officers in the short-term.

Referring to the chief’s e-mail, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said, "Most of us just got it today, and it's certainly something we'll begin talking about."

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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