CPSM’s assessment on Roanoke Police Department recommends improving patrol staffing efficiency

By Isabella Ledonne

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – An assessment on the Roanoke Police Department’s (RPD) public safety operations revealed while the department is providing quality law enforcement services, it may not be allocating and utilizing its resources efficiently.

Police departments across the country are facing a serious backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests, and Roanoke is no exception.

Center for Public Safety Management, LLC, who conducted the assessment, found Roanoke’s backlog is made worse by requests from other units in the police department, specifically the traffic division in requesting crash reports.

The assessment also noted that while the current workload does not seem too burdensome on employees, RPD may not be allocating resources efficiently.

RPD follows a minimum staffing policy that has not been updated since 2018. The report notes “this is not appropriate”, as it is necessary for the chief to adjust staffing levels as needed dependent on the workload.

CPSM also found out the patrol lieutenants do not review or read the crime reports or arrests officers prepare during their shift while they are supervising as field commander.

None of the lieutenants work on Sundays so they can work on administration duties.

The report recommends RPD update its policy to match up with current patrol workload demands, and recommends lieutenants focus on operational management of field activities.

WDBJ7 reached out to City Manager Bob Cowell numerous times for an interview to discuss the RPD assessment. Each time [WDBJ7] was told the City Manager is not available for an interview.

[WDBJ7] received a statement on Tuesday.

“I am appreciative of the work performed by our consultant and am confident in their findings. As intended, their recommendations will aid me, the incoming Chief and the Department in ensuring the Roanoke Police Department remains strong and effective,” Bob Cowell said.

“A number of the recommendations are already being implemented under the leadership of Interim Chief Stokes. Incoming Chief Booth has reviewed the report and recommendations and will be incorporating this information into his assessment of the Department upon his arrival and incorporate it into his plans as he moves the Department forward. While, as with any similar assessment, the report identifies areas for improvement and enhancement, it also identified areas of excellence and best practices and concludes that the Department continues to provide quality law enforcement services for the residents and businesses of Roanoke.”

Previous reporting on trust issues and open dissension within Roanoke Police leadership can be found here.