How police allocate resources

As mentioned yesterday, the death of Mike Allen is raising questions about police resource allocation and calls for service, among other things.

CBC just put up a story about the neighbours who say they called the non-emergency line about 4 hours before police arrived to check on what police said was reported to them as a disturbance.

From the story:

Gravadorz said she and her boyfriend later heard crashing and banging from the house next door and eventually called police around 1 a.m.

“I called the non-emergency line. I didn’t know it was going to be such an emergency.

“It just sounded like she was throwing things around,” said Gravadorz.

Now, if the people calling police didn’t know it was an emergency — and it was phoned in not to 911, but 986-6222, then how could police properly assess the call as such? We already know crimes like homicide are virtually impossible to predict.

But, in an acknowledgement to the fact that domestic-violence related calls can get really ugly and violent, really quickly, the WPS has a policy to designate most DV calls a ‘priority 2’ – meaning urgent response required.

Far and away, DV calls are the ones police are called to respond the most to.

Was Allan’s disturbance call designated priority 2 by the dispatcher?

My sources say emphatically, no. it was designated a ‘check well-being‘ call. Twice.

The subsequent stabbing call at the 7-11 allegedly committed by the same suspect was designated priority 2. More on this in a bit.

How police place general patrol resources [cruiser cars]

[Note: A thanks to Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt. A few months back, Wyatt made a request to the city to allocate permanent resources to all electoral wards. While his motion was shot down, the WPS tabled this report to back up why Wyatt’s idea would cost mega-millions and ultimately, not work as planned.]

Report here: CruiserCars

The Winnipeg Police Service Calls for Service Policy may be summed up as follows: The Priority System is based on

1) The level of danger and urgency associated to the Complainant/public

2) Person-related calls within the same level of danger and urgency being assigned a priority level higher than property-related calls.

In Allan’s case: the call came in as a disturbance/check well-being.

Not gun, assault or indicated immediate threat to person’s life.

From the report:

A statistical analysis has revealed that each patrol unit averages responding to 3.675 calls per shift. Therefore, given the 3 shifts per 24 hour period (Days, Evenings and Nights) each cruiser car area has the ability to respond to 11.025 calls per day on average. (11.025 calls X 365 days = 4024 calls/year) This means that 4024 calls for service can be answered by the designated patrol units of that area each year.

Calculations reveal that 38.28 patrol units are required (per shift), to answer all of the calls each year, if each patrol unit were to respond only to calls for service in their cruiser car area. Currently the Winnipeg Police Service fields a minimum of 27 two officer patrol units per shift, 365 days/year per Article XIII paragraph 5, of the WPA Collective Agreement. Statistical analysis reveals the WPS field on average, 27.1 patrol units per shift …

The reality of policing, and one of the primary expectations of the community requires police resources to be dispatched where they are needed most. For example, cars go to where there is a threat to life or grievous bodily harm. It is reasonable to expect the WPS to dispatch any available General Patrol members to a person whose life is being threatened with death or grievous bodily harm. This should be, and is, regardless of the ““geographical zone”” in which the incident occurs.

Essentially: people over property – and people in real danger of death above all else.

Again, when the stabbing at the 7-11 occurred after Allan was allegedly killed, police cruisers were on the scene in extremely short order. In essence – stabbing, shooting with wounded person = priority call. Officers are pre-empted as necessary from other, less-important calls.

Look at the map below:

Zones of allocation

Ideally, cruiser cars in downtown locations [as example] in zones demarked with a 1 [101 etc] are assigned to that area, but can be called away from the zone into any other district as needed, depending on what’s happening.

I’ll speculate that the more serious the violence in say, the West End, the more officers are called in to restore order.

Ultimately, that means cars in areas like District 6 – [the area where Allan’s call was] will get shunted into the high-crime areas as a necessity.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Gold told CBC News on Sunday that overnight Saturday/Sunday (along with other parts of the weekend) the calls for assistance/service were backing up to the point than there were 100 more requests at any time that police could actually respond to.

Ultimately, some questions remain:

  • Could the WPS have predicted that the check well-being would turn out to be a situation of maximum violence? [short answer: no.]
  • Was there a cruiser car available in District 6 at the time the well-being call was placed in the queue? If no, where was it redeployed to?
  • At the times the two well-being calls were placed, how many calls were backed up in the queue? Of what nature were they?
  • Does this situation give Coun. Wyatt’s now-defunct proposal some merit it didn’t have when it was quashed?
  • Should it be revisited?

Barring a member of the WPS brass answering these questions, I’d love to hear what former deputy chief Menno Zacharias or the mayoral candidates in the upcoming October election have to say.

—-

I stopped in quickly at Allan’s home again today.

The police tape is down and the property is all locked up tight.

I knocked on the door to see if anyone was there. No one was.

The inside looks chaotic.

Bloodstains remain on the floor by the kitchen like grisly maps of coastal reef.

But after walking down the back lane, I spotted this by Allan’s back door:

Cherry tomato planters

They’re two cherry tomato planters with buds just beginning to ripen.

On the tiny deck, there’s other vegetables growing as well.

It’s a small reminder that even though murder grows larger in the spotlight of the media, at either end of the murder weapon is a person who is, at root, imperfect; a human being.

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