Study: New Police Officers Needed for Cafritz Population Boom
A Johns Hopkins analysis finds that Riverdale Park Police may need 11 new sworn personnel and 6 more civilian employees.
The anticipated population burst from the Cafritz project could require Riverdale Park to hire 17 new public safety employees, according to an assessment from Johns Hopkins University.
The study, presented at Monday night's council worksession, looked at how the 3,000-odd residents expected to accompany the 36-acre mixed-use development would affect police staffing levels. Currently, the RPPD serves a population of about 6,956.
When the site is fully built out, Riverdale Park could expect to see a 29 percent increase in crimes and 43 percent increase in service calls, researchers concluded. Administrative duties, code enforcement tasks, paperwork, and communications traffic are also expected to balloon.
To meet that demand, the study found that the RPPD would need an additional nine patrol officers, two criminal investigators, three dispatchers, two administrative staff, and one code enforcement officer—in all, 11 sworn personnel and 6 civilian employees.
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The study relied on a manpower model used by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. As of today, that same model already finds the department two officers shy of its recommended staffing level.
Researchers estimated that the new hires would cost the town $1,095,737—a figure equivalent to 35% of the RPPD's $3,127,720 budget for fiscal year 2013.
The evaluation team behind the study included Maj. Amal Awad and Sgt. Thomas Calmon of the Prince George's County Police Department, retired Capt. Richard McArthur of the U.S. Capitol Police, Chief Stephen Walker of the Edmonston Police Department, and Dr. Phyllis McDonald, Director of Research from the JHU School of Education's Division of Public Safety Leadership.
Several audience members at Monday's meeting questioned whether the study understated the strain the Cafritz development would place on public services.
"I think that the council—and this is an excellent council—needs to be prepared to respond and adjust these numbers. These are estimates … We specifically tried to be conservative, because we're already talking about a lot of money," Walker said.
Ward 2 Councilman Alan Thompson wondered aloud whether the introduction of a Whole Foods might offset the expected increase in service calls, citing the example of the store's location on P Street in northwest Washington, D.C.
"It would be interesting to see what the stats of that neighborhood did during the move-in of the Whole Foods, because I would actually guess the number of calls there went down," Thompson said.