Flower Mound, Texas is a growing community of approximately 80,000 residents, located 28 miles northwest of Dallas and 15 minutes from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In addition to responding to the normal calls one can expect to receive in a largely suburban area, Flower Mound Police Department also features all the units that a large city police department would be expected to have, including SWAT, a marine safety patrol that polices the nearby Grapevine Lake, and a mental health unit.
The department comprises over 100 sworn officers and an additional 40-50 support staff, bringing the total number of employees to around 150. Unlike many other police departments in the country, Flower Mound PD is currently nearly fully staffed, but that hasn’t made their scheduling any less complicated.
When it comes to much of the day-to-day scheduling, there’s one person the entire department relies on: Patrol Secretary Margaret Mulcahy, who has been with the department for 11 years. Known fondly as Ms. Peggy by the officers she works with, Margaret enters the schedules for the Flower Mound PD officers, as well as the overtime and hired security details, in addition to other essential duties.
With over 100 officers in two platoons, patrolling eight different beats throughout the city on three main shifts, ensuring that each shift’s needs are met, in addition to crisis situations and special requests from the community, is no easy task. All combined, the Flower Mound PD’s schedule is complex, shifts often, and features a significant amount of overlap to ensure coverage in every area.
Before adopting Vector Scheduling, the department made use of another program, but as the agency grew and the scheduling became more complex, they found they needed a platform with more robust features that could automate much of the scheduling process.
After making the switch, Margaret has found that in addition to simplifying the process to create each day’s schedule, the accuracy of the department’s scheduling records has also drastically improved.
The local emergency communication dispatch center also makes use of Vector Scheduling to handle their own scheduling.
Beyond simplifying the scheduling process, Flower Mound PD has also benefited from the platform’s mobile functionality.
Sergeant Jason Rachal, who has been with the department for 11 years, oversees the Special Services Division, which encompasses anything outside of Investigations and Patrol, including training, recruiting, off duty assignments, and more.
Through the app, Sergeant Rachal frequently checks schedules, makes quick changes to officer’s assignments, and ensures everyone is on the same page regarding shift rosters, all at a moment’s notice and utilizing his mobile device.
“We want anyone within the organization to be able to access Vector Scheduling and know what any of our employees are doing at any time throughout the day. It’s really nice to have it all in one area that’s accessible by all of our employees.”
The platform has also improved communication throughout the department and improved accountability and transparency at all levels of the agency.
“Everyone is on the same page,” Sergeant Rachal said.
Even for a department that isn’t dealing with officer shortages, managing callbacks when officers are unexpectedly unable to come in or when additional coverage is needed for emergency incidents is a major challenge.
With Vector Scheduling, Flower Mound PD no longer has to manually call officers when they need additional coverage. Instead, through the platform, callbacks can be automated and officers who are qualified for those positions are able to volunteer.
“It’s so much easier. I can just put them all in and then see who all has taken what,” Margaret said of the callback functionality.
Beyond staffing shortages, police departments have also been dealing with additional callouts due to the pandemic.
“During COVID, there have been days when you would show up and you’d find out that three people had called in, and now you’ve gone from eight officers on a shift down to five officers. As soon as I would find out, I’d jump on my phone and put in a callback…and we were having officers come in within an hour,” Sergeant Rachal said.
The callbacks functionality has also been beneficial during crisis situations to quickly spread the word and get additional help until the situation is resolved.
“We had an incident that required pretty much our entire department to come in and we utilized Vector Scheduling to get the word out. We got people in and it made it a lot simpler and easier. It’s been a huge tool for us to get the word out to people quickly if we need to.”
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