Chief still reviewing police restructuring study

Demitrous Cook.

A little over two months into his new job, Police Chief Demitrous Cook told aldermen Monday night that he's still reviewing recommendations of a consultant's study that called for several changes to the organization of the department.

The $25,000 study, conducted by Hillard Heintze LLC, called for slight reductions in the number of command officers in the department and called for a broader review of how its patrol resources are organized.

At the City Council's Human Services Committee meeting, Cook said he's moving ahead with the study's recommendation to combine the detective and juvenile bureaus and is having all detectives trained to be able to handle juvenile caes.

But he said he didn't like the consultants' recommendation to assign the department's executive officer to also supervise the office of professional standards.

He said the department now spends $1.2 million to assign nine problem solving team officers to work on issues largely identified by the city's nine aldermen.

Although some PST officers are split between wards and multiple officers are assigned to other wards, Cook said he would like to restructure their assignments.

"My vision is to have more people on foot building relationships -- get out of the car and get into the neighborhood and know folks in the community," Cook said.

He said the PST officers have extensive experience in relationship-building and he would like to have them spearhead a mentorship program in patrol operations to push the philosophy of community policing and problem solving to all patrol officers.

"I think they have the knowledge to become facilitators to push out a better product than what we've been giving the public," the chief said, adding that a more community-oriented approach would also help minimize conflicts that lead to expensive litigation against the city.

Cook also said he'd opened the department's weekly deployment meetings to attendance by members of the public as part of an effort to be more transparent.

And he said he wants to have more flexibility to be able to "saturate an area" with officers "to put out crime really quick" as he did recently after an outbreak of violent crime on Howard Street.

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