Low TPD Staffing Could Cause Slower Emergency Response Times in City

Black scratch marks are etched into the frame of the back door, hinging Dieumy Duclos to memories of one of the scariest experiences of his life.        

Duclos was home alone the second time three male burglars returned to steal more from his house.       

“They couldn’t get in through the back door,” Duclos said. “So they tried to come in through the window. They picked up a brick and threw it through the window.”        

Duclos dialed 911 as he hid in a room upstairs. To no relief, the blue and red flashing lights didn’t arrive immediately.        

“After about 20 minutes, the burglars already got in and left, that’s when the police arrived,” Duclos said. “It was a little too late at that point.”

It’s been a year since Duclos, a senior criminal justice student at Florida A&M  University, was the victim of two burglaries in his former Charleston Square town home.        

Every year, the police department asks the city for more officers to manage the  growing population, but sometimes that’s not financially feasible according to Officer David Northway, the public information officer for the Tallahassee Police Department.        

“All of our calls are mediated by our sergeants who are in the field,” Northway  said.“They are told of the call and what type of call it’s, and if there’s a need for them to break off from whatever they’re doing right then and there, they will do it.”       

TPD has a force of about 350 officers year round who answer around 300,000 service calls a year.        

“You would always want a lot of police officers,” Northway said. “But you have to  mitigate that against other financial obligations.”        

Raoul Lavin, Tallahassee’s department of management & administration director,  said the economic recession that the city has experienced in recent years, has  limited the ability of the city to add money in the budget for departments like the police force.        

In spite of the “very limited resources,” Lavin said the police department has actually added positions.        

“As a part of this year’s budget, the police has gotten six new positions for a total cost of about $830,000,” Lavin said.       

With a growing police department, some residents feel that every officer has a duty to respond quickly to the scene of an emergency.        

Currently, there are no laws that require specific emergency response times from  police officers, but Duclos said police officers still have a responsibility to respond to emergencies before criminals evade a crime scene and that “there is no excuse” for failure.