By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer’s police officer-to-resident ratio is one of the lowest in Oregon, a study from the League of Oregon Cities shows.

The study compared 123 city police agencies statewide, and found Keizer has 1.1 officers per 1,000 residents – below the statewide average of 1.67 officers per 1,000. The study showed Keizer is 11 spots from the bottom, and among comparable cities (populations between 20,001 and 50,000) Keizer ranked third from the bottom.

The data compares data from 1999 to information from 2009. In 1999, the study reports, Keizer had 37 full-time sworn police officers, with a ratio of 1.22 officers per 1,000. At the time the population was about 30,260.

Today, with a population of about 36,220, Keizer currently employs 38 sworn officers. At one point the number was 41, in April of 2009. Since then three officers have resigned – two went to other agencies and another decided to leave police work.

Chief Marc Adams said the agency would need 49 officers to meet the average ratio.

Adams, who supports the city’s push to install a wireless tax to help pay for 911 and other public safety communications needs, said long-term proactive drug investigations have so far borne the brunt of cuts at the agency. The council last year imposed a hiring freeze on positions relying on the city’s general fund.

“If we got personnel we’d put it back on the road tomorrow,” Adams said of his department’s Community Response Unit. “It’s badly needed, but we don’t have any bodies for it. … A lot of time it’s a quality of life issue, and if you stop that you don’t’ have to go back over and over.”

He said current staffing levels “barely allow us to meet obligated patrol time.”

Adams said he strives to have five officers on duty at any given time, but between sick leave, court appearances and scheduled days off that number often drops to three.

“Even with all our efficiencies we’re unable to meet our mission without a consistent funding source,” Adams said.