Leonard Matarese, principal and co-founder of the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM), was recently interviewed regarding a new sales tax proposed by the Lafayette Police Department.
[T]here is no FBI recommendation for law enforcement staffing, said Leonard Matarese, a public safety administration expert with the Center for Public Safety Management, which works with federal agencies on behalf of local governments.
“They are not in any way making recommendations, and they never have,” Matarese said. “They make a point of specifically saying in their annual reports not to look at what’s going on in other communities to make decisions about your own community.”
The FBI reports staffing levels for local law enforcement agencies across the country, sorting the data into per-capita averages. The reports come with a standard disclaimer that they “should not be interpreted as preferred officer strengths recommended by the FBI.” They are intended for information only.
The best way to determine staffing levels, Matarese said, is to measure the officers’ workload, and not simply by counting 911 calls. A workload analysis would determine how much time officers spend responding to calls versus proactively engaging residents, business owners and other organizations.
“You can’t make unilateral decisions about staffing until you know where the workload is. If you’re just picking a number without any meaningful analysis, that number could be too big or too small.”