In January, the St. Charles Police Department got a new police chief and underwent a major reorganization.
The department has moved back to a single-district structure and away from a two-district organization in which the city was split into two areas. The two-district structure was first implemented under former Police Chief Dennis Corley in 2007.
The decision to return to the single-district model was made with input from Interim Police Chief Larry Stulce at the request of Mayor Sally Faith.
City Administrator Michael Spurgeon said city officials felt it would be more efficient to move back to the former model. In making the decision, the city also will not add a substantial amount of space for police in the new public safety facility being built on the north side of the city.
"We will have a presence in the new building," he said. "With the ground that's there, we're able to expand, when in such time the community grows to that extent, where we need more of a presence out there."
Major Ed Mitchell said the change is primarily an administrative one and will put the detectives back into one bureau. It will also result in having lieutenants available to oversee personnel on each shift.
"I think it provides better information from the top down," he said. "We have a Monday morning staff meeting. That commander is able to take that info directly to patrols as opposed to it trickling down through the ranks."
One of the reasons some police departments use a two-district model is because it allows police officers to make and maintain relationships in their districts. Mitchell said officers will still have zones in which they operate under the new model.
"We haven’t decreased our policing manpower, so I don't know that it’s something you can actually notice day to day. It’s just a different way for us to do business," he said.
New Police Chief Randy McKinley, who was sworn in Feb. 5, said he thinks the city made the right decision in returning to a single district model.
"After so many years in law enforcement, it's so critical that you have cross communication throughout the department and you have one person in charge of patrol," McKinley said. "The officers seem to be very pleased with the decision."
The city has not yet made a decision about rejoining the St. Charles County SWAT Team. In 2010, the city pulled five officers out of the County SWAT and created its own SWAT team.
Mitchell said McKinley will evaluate the city's SWAT program and consider a possible return to the County SWAT Team.
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