SAN ANTONIO — Michael Miller said the low point of his relationship with the San Antonio Police Department came about 21 months ago.
A west-side small business owner who lives about two miles from his store, Miller said he has a tendency to pull out his cell phone and start recording video when he sees criminal activity.
That was the case in February 2013, when a disgruntled employee from a nearby business began trying to fight people on the sidewalk in front of Miller’s store.
“We live in an age where you can put anything on the Internet, can send it to the news,” said Miller, who has uploaded videos of crimes in progress to various social media sites.
The man eventually spotted Miller and his camera phone and proceeded to punch through a window, cutting Miller’s hand with glass in the process.
Miller says police could have prevented the incident from escalating, if officers had taken less than 20 minutes to respond.
The San Antonio Police Department has added one position since 2011, even as the city’s population has grown at a rate of around 100 new residents per day during the same period of time.
However, officers who spoke with KENS 5 say the department’s lack of growth is by design. SAPD utilizes a workload-based model which assigns officers to areas of the city based on how many incidents have occurred in that area.
Like many U.S. cities, San Antonio used to determine police department staffing based on how many officers it had per 1,000 residents.
But in 2009, the city commissioned California-based Matrix Consulting Group to analyze all aspects of the San Antonio Police Department.
“A study commissioned by the city to come in and look at their processes,” said SAPD Officer Tom Tirey.
“A very intelligent thing to do, to have someone from the outside come in and tell you what’s wrong.”
Tirey, who has seven college degrees including a doctorate in business administration, was one of two representatives from the San Antonio Police Officers Association to sit on the committee which analyzed the results of the study in 2010.
“Its all performance based, workload based, what you’re asking the officers to do,” said Tirey, who added many of the study’s recommendations had already been included in the 2009 collective bargaining agreement signed by the city.
An SAPD spokesman told the I-Team last week the number of officers assigned to areas of the city is determined by the number of incidents in that area. The spokesman went on to say the goal of this deployment strategy is to equalize workload among all shifts and substations.
Miller told the I-Team he has noticed an improvement in SAPD’s response times to criminal activity in his neighborhood.
Miller recorded video of a domestic disturbance across the street from his house earlier this month. SAPD officers can seen arriving on scene less than two minutes after 911 was called.
According to the 2010 matrix study, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Diego California and San Jose, California agreed to have their police departments analyzed.
Austin, El Paso, Houston and Phoenix, Arizona did not participate.
San Diego, California and Phoenix, Arizona are decent comparisons to San Antonio because all three cities have around 1,500,000 residents.
Four years after the study was released, the Phoenix Police Department has 516 more officers than the San Antonio Police Department. Response times for Phoenix police officers stood at 5 minutes 35 seconds last year. The average response time of San Antonio police was 7 minutes 5 seconds last year. San Diego police officers respond to scenes within an average of 7 minutes.
SAPD has added one position since 2011 KENS
Even with more officers, Phoenix had more more murders and burglaries than San Antonio in 2013, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. San Antonio had more sexual assaults, property crimes and thefts than Phoenix last year.
San Diego, which currently has 1,867 officers, 508 fewer than San Antonio, had fewer incidents of violent crimes and property crimes last year.