Robbery Unit Dismantled in Ohio Police Department

Sept. 26, 2012
The Dayton department's robbery unit will be disbanded sending the unit's workload to the existing patrol operations districts, as the department completes its reorganization.

DAYTON - The Dayton police department's six-man robbery unit will be disbanded effective next Monday, sending the unit's workload to the existing patrol operations districts, as the department completes its reorganization based on fewer officers.

"This is the final piece (of moving) from centralized to decentralized operations," Chief Richard Biehl said Tuesday. "If we do not change the way we are organized and deliver police services, we risk failing a significant portion of our public safety mission."

The local Fraternal Order of Police plans to file grievances on the move, alleging contract violations.

The robbery squad is the latest unit to be "decentralized" within the department and no longer function as a separate entity. Within the past 18 months, the burglary, general assignment and auto theft squads have all been funneled into the three patrol districts.

"When I came on as chief back in 2008, we had 415 sworn personnel and 27 recruits in the academy," Biehl said. "We now have 321 sworn personnel and a class of 22 that graduated about four weeks ago. You're talking about roughly 100 less police officers to complete the same mission."

The department will create three new detective slots in the West Patrol Operations Division and two in the East Patrol Operations District. District detectives investigate mainly burglaries, thefts and break-ins. Now they will add armed and unarmed robberies to their portfolio. The current robbery detectives can apply for the five new district detective positions.

Armed and unarmed robberies are down 14 percent through the first six months of the year (228) compared to the first six months of 2010 (334), according to department statistics. Break-ins, on the other hand, are up 38 percent this year (653) compared to the same period in 2010 (472). Likewise, theft from buildings have spiked 41 percent this year (391) from 2010 (278).

Lt. Randy Beane, FOP president, said the organization planned to file grievances this week, claiming the unit's sergeant was denied "bumping rights" - the ability to take a comparable job, bumping a less senior sergeant in either homicide or special victims unit - and age discrimination. All of the robbery detectives have nearly 20 years or more of experience.

"This is a terrible disservice to the citizens," Beane said, "taking dedicated and knowledgeable robbery detectives and removing them from the robbery squad."

Beane also questioned why Central Patrol Operations District did not receive additional detectives.

Maj. Chris Williams, who oversees the department's investigations, said analysis of detective caseloads showed the east and west districts needed the most help. "Central Patrol Operations will be fine. By caseload management, they'll still have the least number of cases per detective," he said.

"I haven't seen any of the grievance, so I can't really comment," Biehl said. "The issue is about who would be the best to fulfill the job. This is consistent with the restructuring we started 18 months ago."

The department consolidated its five previous districts into three 18 months ago, dispersing the burglary, theft and auto detectives from the downtown Public Safety Building to the three districts so they could better interact with street officers and make it easier for victims and witnesses to reach detectives.

"It was a fundamental change. It's worked out wonderfully," Biehl said of the reorganization, pointing to a drop in major crimes.

In the first year under reorganization, violent crimes were down 14 percent in 2011 compared to 2009. Major property crimes dropped 5 percent over the same period, according to department statistics.

The homicide and the special victims units remain at the Public Safety Building.

Copyright 2012 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.

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