The consultant who just completed a comprehensive study of the Delaware City Police Department liked what he saw and heard.

The consultant who just completed a comprehensive study of the Delaware City Police Department liked what he saw and heard.

But, said Alexander Weiss, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement.

Delaware Police Chief Russell Martin was pleased with the report prepared by Weiss of The PAR Group, a management consulting agency in Lake Bluff, Ill.

Weiss presented his findings to the city council at a May 28 work session.

His report touched on five areas, he told the council: staffing, work schedule, patrol operations, patrol support and strategic initiatives for the future.

Weiss based his findings on data he reviewed from the department, interviews with employees at all levels and focus group meetings with "community stakeholders" from areas such as business and education.

He also spent a lot of time talking to Martin.

He said he found the police department "has some really outstanding, bright people ... most are highly motivated and proud of the agency and care about the community," he told the council. He was impressed with the department's facilities and equipment and the strong community support.

He also mentioned the "relatively low levels of violent crime," as a positive for the city. "At the end of the day, that is what people care the most about," he said.

He recommended the department use a different staffing method, going from a "minimum staffing" method that dictates how many officers are on the street at all times to one that is "workload-performance based."

With that method, he told the council, you look at what the officers do and what is going on when they are working and staff accordingly.

For example, calls for service, on average, start increasing at 3 p.m., peak at 5 p.m. and decrease as the evening progresses.

It doesn't make sense to have a shift change at 3 p.m. using those figures, Weiss said. The majority of the officers work eight-hour shifts, on a six-consecutive-day schedule with either two or three days off.

In his interviews with officers, Weiss said, the majority said the "six-day-on cycle was too long" and most would like longer shifts -- 10 or 12 hours -- instead of the current system.

Weiss also recommended changes to patrol area assignments.

The police department divides the city into three beats, "which is a good thing because it focuses on more neighborhoods," he said. But the senior officers on a shift "float" between beats while less experienced officers stay within the beat boundaries.

More senior officers, who are trained to be more observant, should keep on patrolling the neighborhoods while the less experienced officers are used as floaters, Weiss said.

The department also relies heavily on senior officers for field supervision, when a lieutenant or sergeant isn't available.

"You should not be using a police officer as the senior person on the street," he said.

Weiss also said the department needs more oversight on case management.

In Delaware, patrol officers are assigned cases and do most of the investigation, which helps them to be more detailed than they would be passing the case to an investigator, he said.

It also causes a problem if an officer is in charge of several cases, with "no clear way to make sure the follow-up is done," he said.

Martin said he and his staff are already looking at ways to implement many of the recommended changes in the coming year, budgeting money where it is needed to make it happen in 2010.

"I don't think these changes are cost-prohibitive," Martin said.

Among those changes would be adding positions so a lieutenant or sergeant is on-duty at all times, he said.

He would like to hire a civilian, which would cost less than a uniformed officer, to oversee case management so that cases are regularly reviewed.

He also plans to look at the way officers are deployed to the city's grid during each patrol shift.

Finally, he is working on schedule changes with the police union.

"My intent is to be chief for several more years," he said. The study gives him and the department guidelines to improve the efficiency and operation "to best serve the citizens for the next several years."