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City Council Report: Council Told That More Police, Firefighters Needed:

The Police and Fire Departments reported to City Council on their staffing requirements over the next five years. Both departments said that their staffing has not increased during recent years, but that additions will be required during the future.

At the March 11 meeting, Police Chief Tim Jackman submitted that “staffing levels will need to increase by 31 sworn officers and 14 civilians in order to optimally serve the community,” particularly to respond to “traffic concerns, youth intervention, and issues associated with homelessness.” The Police Department presently has 216 sworn officers and 187 civilian employees.

“In years past, staffing levels were typically determined by using an officer-to-population ratio, he said. “Using that formula, staffing levels have seen virtually no appreciable increase over the past five years despite the imposition of new regulations and a sea change in policing methodology.” He also noted that while Santa Monica has a population of approximately 88,000 residents, there may be 250,000 people in the city on any given day including visitors and non-resident employees.

Fire Chief Jim Hone projected, “The Fire Department needs to hire 16 safety and six non-safety personnel over a five-year period to improve firefighter and public safety and to enhance customer service delivery.” He noted, “During the past 13 years, the Fire Department has experienced a 72 percent increase in emergency call volume without any increase in Fire Suppression and Rescue staffing.”

Hone proposed increasing Fire Department staffing by 23 personnel over the next five years.

Although the Council was of the mind that, in the words of Councilmember Ken Genser, “Public safety is of the highest priority,” the Council received the reports but took no action on them, as City Manager Lamont Ewell said that he would consider the needs of all City departments and present his proposed budget in May.

The Council also heard a report from outgoing Director of Environmental and Public Works Management Craig Perkins on the concept design for a street improvements project on 20th Street and Cloverfield Boulevard between Pico Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway. Perkins said the City had held three community meetings on the project and would go back to the community again after hearing the City Council’s input. That input, in sum, was to urge staff to “break down the scale of the streets,” especially 20th Street, to be in keeping with a neighborhood environment.

In other action, the Council proclaimed March 2008 as Women’s History Month in the City of Santa Monica and put over to a future meeting the “second reading,” or final approval, of the ordinance to restrict larger aircraft at Santa Monica Airport.

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