Police chief: Department 'struggling' with response times

Police chief: Department 'struggling' with response times »Play Video
Bakersfield police investigate a June 2013 shooting. (KBAK/KBFX file photo/John Raguindin)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The police department is hiring outside help in an effort to reduce its response times.

Despite having the largest force in department history, Chief of Police Greg Williamson told Eyewitness News that they're still struggling to reach emergencies fast enough.

"I don't think the public is satisfied with the response times we're providing at this point," said Williamson. "We have been struggling with providing adequate response times with the staff that we have.”

Last September, the department reported its average response time was 11 minutes and 53 seconds.

For Williamson, that’s not fast enough.

"Officers don't like going on calls any more than citizens like us to show up late, because they're often berated for their slow response times. So, we're looking for solutions," Williamson said.

With nearly 389 officers on the force, the department is bigger than it's ever been.

But, police officials said a growing city, increasing crime and more demanding department practices have stretched officers too thinly.

That’s why the department is looking to bring in a police service organization called the International Association of Chiefs of Police, or the IACP.

Williamson is hopeful bringing in outside help will prove successful.

"It's always encouraging to have a fresh set of eyes to come and look at what we're doing and hopefully provide some insight or some additional direction that maybe we haven't thought of," Williamson said.

The consultation could take several months and cost up to $100,000.

The money would come from state funding for prison realignment program, AB109, and would require Bakersfield City Council to approve the spending.

City Manager Alan Tandy said he will recommend approval at the City Council meeting Jan. 22.