How many officers are enough?
Do you need enough to fill the districts?
Do you need enough to respond to emergencies in 5 minutes instead of 6?
Or do you need to take a new look at how this is all calculated?
The Gold Standard
Traditionally, calls for service have always been the gold standard for determining how many officers are needed. For many years, departments justified their staffing levels based on a formula of calls for service and number of officers per 1,000 population.
Being concerned with just calls for service is reactive policing though. Over the past 10 or 15 years the formula has been under fire for failing to satisfactorily address the policing needs of communities. You have little control over spikes in calls for service and when they do happen, calling for more officers does little as it takes an average of two years to take a new recruit and train him to a point where he is effective on the streets.
Calls for service are still an important statistic, but they can be heavily affected by external factors which ebb and flow.