Palm Springs preparing to add police officers

Police Association President says, "It's a start."

More police officers could soon be patrolling the streets of Palm Springs.

The city manager is preparing to submit a budget to council that will add three officers to the department, as well as a second person to transport arrestee's to the jail in Banning.

"I think the city council will receive this request well," Palm Springs City Manager, David Ready said. "We're coming out of the recession. We have a little bit of some growth in funds."

Some of the funding will also come from the new tax on medical marijuana from the voter approved Measure B.

The police officers association says many more officers are needed than what is being proposed by the city.

"It's a start," Palm Springs Police Officers Association President, William Hutchinson said. "But we certainly need a lot more officers than we have now."

Hutchinson says staffing limitations force the police to be reactive to crime rather than pro active to deterring it. Between four to six officers patrol the city at any given time.

"Those are dangerous levels to operate at," Hutchinson said. "We don't have the ability to focus on gangs and intelligence, because we simply don't have the man power to focus on those issues."

Hutchinson says the police department has been understaffed and overworked for four years.

"2009 or 2010 we lost roughly between 26 and 30 employees to the police department," Hutchinson said. "For an agency our size, that is very damaging."

He points to city council staff reports that show police department personnel thinned from 158.5 in 2009 to 130.5 in 2010. Many of those employees worked at the city jail that closed, and in other civilian personnel positions. But, Hutchinson says the department will still be short on sworn officers even with three more brought in.

"If the city - and I hope they would - continues to work with us and we continue to provide the right information," Hutchinson said, "They will absolutely see that we are understaffed."

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