Auditing City Departments

7/30/2008:

When it comes to Police Department audits, one Hoboken411 reader suggests taking a lead from the city of Independence, Missouri.

He details how comprehensive the report is and should be the bar for both the Mayor’s office and Council on any audit that is done for the office as a whole as well as fire and police.

The key?: Their city is transparent, and the whole report is on their site.

hoboken-independent-audit-police-fire.jpg

What an independent audit should look like

“Here is what a professional and independent evaluation of a police department should look like:

http://www.ci.independence.mo.us/userdocs/police/berkshirereport.pdf

This is for the city of Independence Missouri. In year 2000 their population was 113,223 and it is 78.5 sq mi and has a much higher crime rate than Hoboken.

hoboken-hidden-public-records.jpgHoboken is 38,577 in year 2000 and 1.3 square miles in size. In others words Independence Missouri is 293% in population than Hoboken and has over 60 times the land area for the police department to patrol. This report actually recommended that the number of employees for this City be increased from 151 to 206.5, a net increase of 55.5 staff members. According to your report released last week on Hoboken 411 there are 174 employees in the police department of Hoboken currently. In other words that is one employee for every 222 residents of this town. For Independence Missouri the number is one cop for every 750 residents. Is Hoboken really that different from Independence Missouri that we need that many cops?

The demographics and makeup of Independence Missouri are obviously much different than Hoboken but it is a substantially larger city and Hoboken has a relatively very low violent crime rate although I can personally attest to the high theft rate in Hoboken as our building has been hit twice with burglaries in the last 3 years.

I am no expert in the appropriate levels of Police staffing but just running the numbers and vetting with my own intuition I feel that the Hoboken police department is likely to be found to be:

  1. Too top heavy. Too many captains and way too many officers over $100K year.
  2. Needs more patrols.
  3. Needs to be staffed according to peak times (more patrols Friday and Saturday night).
  4. Overall probably has too much staff but let the experts decide that.
  5. Needs a new leadership vision after many years of the wrong leadership from the former Chief.

But hey, I’ll leave to the experts. I hear according to a source in the Mayor’s Office the State is conducting a review of the police department on some level. The issue really is what level?

I would think that the deliverable that the City Council should demand is at least a report like this as a deliverable if the State is going to do the review. If not then professionals of the caliber that Beth Mason has proposed should be brought in through an open bidding process. I would feel comfortable with the latter since the Mayor has friends in high places. So far they both appear to be willing to bury the over expenditures over many years which is simply bad fiscal policy along with playing politics with the budget. Bringing in consultants would ensure that the view would be independent and remove any potential aspect of impropriety. I understand that the State has some good people but with the political connections between the Mayor Turner and Doria I think it is best we get an outside opinion.

This isn’t about politics; this is about doing the right thing.”

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1 Comment on "Auditing City Departments"

Hobo91
Member

I think we all recogine the potential benefit of an independent audit such as the one desrcibed above. I think we are a few members shy of a majority on the city counsel before we see anything similar.

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