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Medford councilors weigh in on police service study

Medford city councilors told police Chief Justin Ivens during a study session Thursday they were interested in seeing certain types of research and information contained within the upcoming Level of Service and Staffing Analysis.

Ivens explained that the study has been long overdue. He has been with the Medford Police Department since 1995 and said he didn’t remember such research ever being done.

Ivens was sworn in as police chief in December.

“It’s an overall look at how we’re doing business,” Ivens told the council members about the report.

The department’s staffing levels compose one part and it will include comparisons of the department with other departments that serve similar-size communities.

Other areas likely to be evaluated include what the best work schedule would be for patrol officers — four days, 10 hours each, or three days, 12 hours each, for example — and the department’s organizational structure.

Ivens also said the study would look at “the effect of calls for service.”

For example, the longtime philosophy of “No call too small” will be reviewed.

“We want to look at it to see if we’re doing it efficiently,” he noted.

Councilors concurred with the department’s plans but provided some specific ideas.

Mayor Randy Sparachino, a former Medford police chief, asked for more research about response times, citing their importance.

Ivens credited Sparachino and former police Chief Scott Clauson for being interested in issues related to service levels in the recent past that have brought the department to this point of evaluation.

“I’m glad you’re looking at staffing assignments,” said Councilor Chad Miller, who works for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy for county corrections.

Miller pointed out to the other councilors that it requires more time to investigate a sex crime than a trespass. That’s why providing information to shed light on common types of local crime and what it often entails to investigate each type is also important.

Looking at what types of crimes are more common in the city would also help determine staff assignments, such as whether more detectives are needed, he also said.

Councilor Sarah Spansail asked for plenty of historical data in relation to local crimes because of increased demand for service.

Councilors would also like to see information in the study that could shed light on how the community’s socioeconomic data might be affecting local crime, whether the transient population requires more police department time, and if the downtown exclusion ordinance is indeed working.

The Center for Public Safety Management is the contractor compiling the study for the department. Analysis of the department’s call load and response times during 2021 should be complete by the end of the month, Ivens told councilors.

Members of the contractor’s project team will be visiting the department next month. The study is slated for presentation to the council during their meeting on July 14.

This research will be examined before expanding police department staff, Ivens stressed.