Monday, July 6, 2015

Lisbon the New Yarmouth

Three months ago Lisbon contracted with Tideview Group to find out if we have too many Police employees. This was a relatively straight forward task that mainly involved comparing Lisbon Police to other Maine communities with similar demographics. (similar population, gender, age, income)  Somehow that simple task was hijacked and turned into a 30 page efficiency report attempting to justify Lisbon's 30 plus member Police/Dispatching force.

The report attempted to overstate the crime in Lisbon and equate it with the number of "calls for service" (9,000 plus per year) but didn't stress the fact that they were calling a person casually asking an officer for directions as being a call for service.  This is very misleading.  The bottom line is we only had 5 violent crimes in Lisbon the last reporting year. (scout)

The report mostly deals with sworn officers giving the impression that they are the only ones in the Police/Dispatch that should be counted when looking at staffing numbers.

The study compares three Maine Police Departments to Liston's PD.  The comparisons were chosen  because they have similar staffing levels, CFS levels, and similar Policing policy. In other words they were chosen in an attempt to justify Lisbon's large PD's numbers. The towns chosen for comparison were:

  • Gorham: This town has half again as many people as Lisbon with half again as many "calls for service". If you look at the demographics Gorham is nothing like Lisbon.  They are a much larger college town with a per capita income almost half again as high as Lisbon's. Gorham's PD has to contend with thousands of teenagers for 9 months out of the year.

  • Yarmouth:  I don't see how anyone could compare Yarmouth demographics with Lisbon's.  Yarmouth has the 6th highest per capita income in Maine at $34,300 dollars per person per year. Lisbon is 229th on the per capita list with only $17,300 dollars a year.   

  • Kennybunk:  This comparison is even more contrasting than Yarmouth.  They are 28th in income ranking with a per capita income  of $26,000 per year.  They are known for being the affluent community where President Bush has a summer home.  This choice baffles me because one of the stated requisites for comparison was similar CFS levels. Kennybunk has more than twice our CFS level.  9,000 for Lisbon and 20,000 for Kennybunk.   oops

  All of these towns are White Collar communities that either have different Policing challenges than Lisbon's or can afford a large PD because of their affluence.    

As flawed as this report is there are a few gems that shine through the BS.  

  • The fact that this report had to go to such ridiculous lengths to find other communities to compare with ours speaks volumes about our bloated Police numbers.

  • Lisbon Police Officers have 30% to 40% (page 11) unobligated time or time not responding to calls for service or self initiated activities.  Would your employer allow you to spend up to 40% of your time doing nothing?

I find this report insulting to our intelligence. It is nothing more than a feeble attempt to justify spending  $2,000,000 plus per year on a police department that only has 5 violent crimes in a year.

I  don't blame  Lisbon Councilors or Management for this one. I think they are probably just as perplexed as I am about this and don't  know how to respond to this white wash.

Call your Councilors and tell them what you think of this report.

Joe Hill