Skip to main content

City police staffing study produces several recommendations for budget talks

By Joanne Beck
BPD Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chris Camp
Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chief Chris Camp review the proposed 2025 budget and a state report at City Hall.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Become an accredited agency, clearly specify job responsibilities for each sergeant, have a desk officer to take walk-in complaints once the new police station is operational, hire and fill vacancies for two school crossing guards, bump up the patrol roster by five to 25 officers and add a full-time confidential secretary.

Those are the recommendations from a New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services study for the Batavia Police Department. Chief Shawn Heubusch asked for a staffing study in June 2023, and he got back several recommendations that are up for consideration. Heubusch reviewed the results with City Council this week during the police department’s budget session at City Hall.

What went into it
The study took demographics, geography, and the area — the city has a total area of 5.2 square miles of land and 135 miles of roadway — within city limits, with major thoroughfares of east-west NY Route 5 and 33, north-south NY Route 63 and 98.

An owner-occupied housing rate of 49.3 percent with a median value of $108,100 per 2021 U.S. Census Bureau, and a population of 15,459, with 83.3. percent white, 5.8 percent Black, .1 percent American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.2 percent Asian and 7.4 percent two or more races. The median household income, again, per 2021 dollars, was $51,914, with 16 percent of the population at or below the poverty line.

The police department has been involved in community events, including Batavia Community Night Out, Shop with a Cop, and Trunk or Treat, plus a newer Batavia Police Flag Memorial. The department also assists in several other events by providing police presence, such as at 5K races and parades.

The police budget in 2023 was $4,374,567, with an average of $3,907,698 during the last four years, the report states, for services that include preventative patrols, traffic control and enforcement; criminal investigations; enforcement and crime prevention; community policing activities; interagency collaboration and work activities; and community education; plus first aid efforts of using automated external defibrillators, Narcan and assistance at structure fires, mental health transports when needed.

A detective division investigates cases involving all major felonies, homicides, serious assaults, cyber, sex and juvenile crimes. Detectives also assist patrols with other investigations as requested, and are responsible for following up on preliminary investigations initiated by patrol officers.

Working by the numbers
There were 20,020 total calls for service in 2022 and 20,885 in 2021, reflecting “a lot of calls related to COVID,” Heubusch said. The average calls in both 2021 and 2022 during the day shift (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) were 6,444, with the most being in the afternoon from 3 to 11 p.m., at 7,110, and a drop to 6,899 during 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The DCJS uses a calculation to figure out how many posts are actually needed to fill three shifts per day. Using that formula, it recommended that 11 posts are needed, which was then calculated into officers, at seven for the day shift and nine for each of the afternoon and night shifts, for a total of 25 officers. 

“We are currently authorized for 20,” Heubusch said. “That’s a big jump. Their numbers back this up.” 

The formula indicates that 25 full-time uniformed personnel are required to respond to calls for service, the report states. This figure does not include patrol supervisory positions such as sergeants and/or corporals. This is the recommended minimum number, established by the application of the formula as being necessary to staff the Batavia Police Department to respond to calls for service, Heubusch said.

An overview of patrol activities showed wide differences for some tasks, such as 702 mental health calls in 2022 versus 658 in 2021 and 728 welfare checks in 2022 compared to 594 in 2021, and a few decreases, namely the 185 to 126 fraud complaints from 2021 to 2022, respectively. There were five more cases for detectives between the two years as well, up from, 325 to 330.

As is, training time, holidays, Workers Comp, “a lot of these factors are what’s driving over time,” he said. Overtime was conservatively estimated at $220,000 for the 2025 budget, and it “will probably be more,” Heubusch said. 

Parking incidents and violations rose, from 1,712 to 1,725 and 612 to 884, respectively. 

The department is in the process of becoming a DCJS-certified tactical team, Assistant Chief Chris Camp said, “and we hope to reach this goal within two years.”

“We’re really close; we just need to send a few more of our operators to our basic squad school,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s a very time-consuming school, it’s a four-week school, and the offerings aren’t that much. So when they do offer them, we’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared to send somebody away for four weeks.”

The department is also working on an interagency agreement with Livingston County to operate as one tactical team when necessary, he said. 

“That helps us towards becoming a certified tactical team,” he said. “We want to become certified, so we think it will open the door for us to get grant money at that point in time. One of the things that we sorely lack right now is the ability to apply for grants because we’re not a certified team.” 

Upgraded technology has helped the department, in terms of time, money and space, Heubusch said, by allowing people to pay their tickets online more immediately, to submit and transmit video recordings to and from the police and district attorney’s office for use in investigations and legal proceedings, and ability to store records in the Cloud versus having physical storage at the station. 

There is $22,750 budgeted for uniforms, and Heubusch made a special note for council that “no money is budgeted for additional officers” in that uniforms line. Council members have to make a decision about whether to add one or more additional officers to next year’s budget or plan it out for future budgets. City Manager Rachael Tabelski informed them on Monday that it would cost $84,500 per officer, plus medical expenses. 

Council members Tammy Schmidt and Bob Bialkowski said they would not support any tax increases, and Council President Eugene Jankowski was in favor of taking any personnel changes slowly and holding off this year, he said. 

Bialkowski said he thinks the department is “doing a great job,” however, there could be a better effort made with public outreach.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize what’s available … what your department is capable of,” Bialkowski said.

The department tries to educate the public and keep updated whenever possible, Heubusch said. 

“We put press releases out on new programs that we have on a regular basis. We have a program that allows people to register their cameras with us so we know where they are,” he said. “We're trying to stay ahead of technology. And that's the one thing that I take a lot of pride in and pat ourselves on the back if you will, is our technology in the department is not very far behind the general public.”

Authentically Local