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  1. Archive

Two points of clarification in sheriff's data

Re: Understaffed or poorly managed?, Jan. 23.

Editor: It was with great interest that I reviewed the article concerning the deployment of patrol cars by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. As you know, I conducted the reduction, transformation and analysis of Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) data for Geoff Dougherty, the author of the article. And while I was quoted accurately and my research findings were portrayed correctly, there remain two points that deserve clarification.

The first point may be considered by some to be minor, but the conclusion attributed to me from my research could create misunderstandings if not reported in full. In that regard, I wish to clarify my views on the percentage of time a primary patrol unit would not be immediately available to answer priority one calls. The article had me implying that "any number up to 35 percent is acceptable." In fact, I stated that when 20 to 35 percent of all units were busy it should elicit caution. Where caution is indicated one normally becomes more alert, shows greater care and takes further precautions. As such, the caution range puts a dispatch-deployment system in a marginal situation. It is not a comfortable state; it indicates that the system is saturated and if sustained for lengthy periods it would put excess stress on the system. In this case, acceptable should mean less than 20 percent of the time should all primary response units be too busy to immediately respond to priority one calls. Consider this illustration: Your school-age child brings home marginal grades. Would this be acceptable to you? A marginal state does not mean an acceptable state.

The second point relates to the scope of services I provided. Simply put, I was asked to test the hypothesis that the Pasco Sheriff's Office needed a significant number of additional patrol deputies to maintain a 10-minute response time to emergency calls for service. My research showed that the hypothesis could not be supported using the data extracted from the CAD system.

In the process of testing the hypothesis, other findings surfaced. These findings suggested that additional organizational issues needed to be investigated. It was for this reason that I recommended that Pasco County conduct a full-scale study of the sheriff's staffing needs. The work performed by me should not be considered a full staffing study, even for the patrol component. Patrol staffing can be impacted by many operational issues such as dispatch practices, radio discipline, alternative call-handling procedures, officer scheduling, investigative expectations, community-police problem-solving goals, administrative duties, arrestee transport, civilian support, use of reserve and volunteers, crime analysis support, the state of the technological and informational infrastructure, and so on.

I spent approximately 95 hours on the research I conducted. A complete staffing study for an agency the size of the Pasco Sheriff's Office would require about 10 times that amount of effort.

I strongly urge the sheriff and County Board of Commissioners to not only replicate the research I conducted, but to expand it to include all law enforcement functions. In this way the residents of Pasco County will have the benefit of an impartial assessment of all police staffing needs as well as a blueprint for how to make the Sheriff's Office a more effective, responsive, and efficient organization.

George J. Sullivan, director

Police Management Advisors

Traffic will be a nightmare near new Super Wal-Mart

Editor: The traffic on U.S. 19 and Ridge Road is terrible. The cars are backed up from Grand Boulevard to the bridge. Now that Wal-Mart is putting up a super store at the Towne Center, what arrangement has the DOT made for the additional traffic?

The public be damned, especially the commuters trying to get home after work. I don't know why Wal-Mart will put that store there when they can go up to Hudson where it is less congested. The people will come there. I guess Port Richey is just looking at the tax base instead of the public. What a nightmare.

Anthony Colontonio

New Port Richey

Florida Lottery wants you to know where profits go

Re: Sheriff's inaccuracies may doom penny tax, Jan. 30 column

Editor: I feel it is extremely important to clarify with your readers that not a single dollar of Lottery profits is spent on anything other than educating Florida's students.

The reporter inaccurately stated that lawmakers routinely raid Lottery proceeds for "other spending." According to state law, the Florida Lottery contributes 38 cents of every dollar to the Education Enhancement Trust Fund, last year totaling more than $800-million. These funds are used fora variety of programs, including school construction, community colleges,and scholarships. It's unfortunate that after 12 years, this type of misinformation is still repeated, which may help explain why the public's mistrust of government continues. For information on how Lottery funds are spent in your county, please visit our Web site at http://www.flalottery.com.

Leo DiBenigno,

director of communications

Florida Lottery, Tallahassee

Share your views

The Pasco Times welcomes letters from readers for publication.

Because of space limitations, letters should be of reasonable length (250-300 words maximum as a rule).

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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Anonymous letters or letters with initials only will not be printed. Send your letter to Pasco Times, 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668.

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