CRESTVIEW — Despite an across-the-board pay raise in the Crestview Police Department, the agency entered the 2015-16 fiscal year 12 officers short of its authorized strength.

Police Chief Tony Taylor reported the more than 20 percent shortfall during a recent quarterly report to the City Council.

Officers left primarily for better pay in other agencies, Taylor said.

“It's not something they wanted to do,” he said. “It's something they had to do.”

Taylor said retaining dispatchers has also been difficult for the same reason. With each dispatcher required to undergo 240 hours of state-mandated training, the department had been losing its investment in their training when they’d move to better-paying agencies.

However, the Crestview Police Department was certified by the Department of Health as a dispatch training facility earlier in the year, leading to a cost savings as it no longer needs to pay tuition, lodging, meals and travel to send new dispatchers out of town for training.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Taylor also reported advances in the police department’s computer systems and equipment, including equipping most officers with body cameras through a $2,000 grant.

Crestview police vehicles are also being equipped with new Coban camera systems that provide high-definition video of incidents that can be automatically activated by flipping on vehicle sirens, triggered by speed radar and other predetermined actions.

With the council’s approval, the police department has acquired Sunguard, a state-of-the-industry computer system that integrates field reports, archival data, incident reports and other data.

Following 2014 revelations of errors in previously reported crime data, the department’s computer staff have been uploading corrected information into the new system, Taylor said.

“The new system server has been installed and is fully functional,” Taylor reported. Features currently online or coming include:

●Automatic vehicle locators for patrol vehicles

●Patrol vehicle driver’s license readers, vehicle printers and bar code scanners for evidence

●GIS mapping system integrated with Crestview Growth Management maps.

ACCREDITATION

One of Taylor’s first goals as chief was to have the Crestview Police Department accredited. It’s been a long process, he said.

“It's taken a little longer than I anticipated or wanted to, but in January we should reach a conclusion,” he said. “It's been a long time in the making.”

A June mock assessment by Florida Department of Law Enforcement assessors revealed several shortfalls, “mostly in facility security,” Taylor reported.

“We addressed all of those issues within 30 days,” he said.

Accreditation “is not an easy process, but it's something to be very proud of,” Taylor said. “It shows we hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

PROGRAMS

Taylor said the department continues to expand its community outreach programs, including starting a youth academy this week.

The summer camp, conducted by the Community Policing Division, is modeled after the successful adult Citizens Police Academy, which this year graduated its fourth class.

Other programs include:

●The citizen-funded K9 Division’s reactivation is also growing, with a donation to buy and train a new police dog and train its handler.

●Cops for Kids, which partnered with an Allen Turner Chevrolet employee program, and raised more than $6,000 to buy Christmas gifts for “106 kids who otherwise wouldn't have a good Christmas.”

●Monthly Coffee with Cop programs in which residents can meet Taylor and other officers in an informal setting and discuss concerns

●Annual Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Ceremony, which drew officers from multiple local and regional agencies and about 200 residents

●Worshiping with a Warrior’s Mindset, a class for local clergy which drew 50 attendees and requests for on-site classes with respective congregations.

“Crestview is a very busy community and we are a full-service agency,” Taylor said.

“This is the best group I have ever worked with in my entire life. These guys have stepped up to the plate.”

_____________________________

CRESTVIEW CRIME BY THE NUMBERS

Here are the 2015 Crestview Uniform Crime Report released earlier in July. Increases or decreases are compared to 2014 statistics:

●Homicide: 1-incident decrease (-100 percent)

●Forcible rape: 12-incident decrease (-43 percent)

●Forcible fondling: 1-incident increase (25 percent)

●Robbery: 8-incident decrease (-28.6 percent)

●Aggravated assault: 16-incident increase (24 percent)

●Burglary: 20-incident decrease (-12 percent)

●Larceny: 128-incident increase* (23.3 percent)

●Motor vehicle theft: 1-incident decrease (-3 percent)

*There was a 158-incident increase in retail theft, “which may be attributed to the since-corrected previously reported anomalies in reporting,” Crestview Police reported.

Source: State of Florida Uniform Crime Report

CRESTVIEW POLICE BY THE NUMBERS

Between Oct. 1, 2015, and June 22, 2016, the Crestview Police Department responded to the following calls for service:

●24,441: total calls for service

●92: Average calls per day

●11.5: Average calls per officer per day

●17,359: Resource hours consumed on initial calls

●25,536: Total resource hours worked in Patrol Division

●8,177: Resource hours available for preventative, pro-active patrols

●2: Average hours per day each officer was available for crime prevention functions

●2: Average hours per day each officer spent in administrative duties

Source: Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor