When it comes to how many police officers a community should have, is there a right number?
There are no federal or state—or even local—mandates for how many officers provide optimal protection and service. The International Association of Chiefs of Police in a recent patrol staffing and deployment study states plainly:
"Ready-made, universally applicable patrol staffing standards do not exist. Ratios, such as officers-per-thousand population, are totally inappropriate as a basis for staffing decisions."
Instead, the study says needs should be determined by a number of different factors, including:
- Number of calls for service
- Population size, density and composition
- Citizen demands for protective services
- Municipal resources
Still, as the communities of Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant grow, the calls for service continue to rise. Mount Pleasant has a sworn strength of 43 full-time officers and almost 27,000 residents.
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Tim Zarzecki told village trustees that his officers handle an average of 10 percent more calls per month as the same month the previous year.
"Our business isn't going down. We're handling on average a 10 percent increase per month over last year," he said in October 2011.
that enabled the department to hire two officers for three years. During their fourth year on the force, the village must fund those officers' salary and benefits.
The Sturtevant Police Department has eight full-time officers, including Chief Sean Marschke and Capt. Tim O'Neill, for a population of just over 7,000. That village is hiring four part-time officers to help pick up the slack after one full time and one part time officer resigned recently.
"We have a significant hole in our staffing when we're busy," Marschke told board members. "Hiring four part-time officers gives us the additional staffing we need with the flexibility to only fill in as necessary."
So, how do Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant stack up against other communities in Wisconsin? Use this handy database to find out.
Data is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual Crime in the United States report, which incorporates information reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies. This report covers 2011.