Four years ago, the Anaheim PD was experiencing challenging times, with civil unrest over two officer-involved shootings.
And because of the economic downturn that zapped staffing at police agencies throughout Orange County and the state, the APD was down to 352 sworn officers, from a pre-recession high of 404.
Councilmember Kris Murray decided to do something about what she called the “dire level” of police staffing for a city of more than 350,000 — a population that swells far beyond that during working hours.
Toss in another 25 million-plus visitors to Anaheim every year, and the need for more police personnel was critical, Murray said.
So she authored and presented to the City Council the Full-Strength Initiative, which called for the hiring of 40 more officers in four years.
Tuesday, June 27, marked the successful completion of what also is known as the 40-in-4 initiative.
Now, the APD has 394 officers and, as of July 1, 2017, is authorized for 408, which includes 10 new hires under the Full-Strength Initiative as well as four new Disney contract positions.
The 40 new hires came without the need to increase taxes or siphon money from other vital city services, Murray said. Instead, the total $8 million spent to hire the 40 new officers came from general fund revenues fueled by continued economic growth in the city.
“Our police department had been stretched beyond thin,” Murray said in an interview. “We adopted a measured and conservative strategy that wouldn’t impact the general fund and not put money for other city resources at risk.”
Added Murray: “In a city that can be politically contentious at times, we were able to all come together on this (initiative). This is one of my proudest moments in my seven years as a councilmember.”
Meanwhile, violent crime in Anaheim was down 5 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and property crime was down 4 percent over the same period.
Murray noted that between 2013 and 2017, the APD focused on many outreach programs to strengthen community relationships, including the Mobile PACE Academy, Neighborhood Watch, Cops 4 Kids, Public Safety Career Pathway, Coffee with a Cop, Community Policing and the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP).
Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said the city made a “courageous decision” in adopting the Full-Strength Initiative.
“The restoration of our sworn personnel to pre-recession levels is allowing us to rebuild our community policing teams and other critical areas of the department, which is assisting in strengthening our relationship with the community we serve,” Quezada said. “The multi-year proposal to strengthen public safety was a courageous decision by the Anaheim City Council and I strongly recommend this concept to other municipalities. Thank you to Councilmember Murray for your continued support of APD and your forward thinking.”