Optimization of Staffing Allocation & Use of Civilians

You are here


Philadelphia Police Department





Organization Overview:

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) is the nation's fourth largest police department, with over 6300 sworn members and 800 civilian personnel. The PPD is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for serving Philadelphia County, extending over 140 square-miles in which approximately 1.5 million reside. Our mission is to be the model of excellence in policing by working in partnership with the community and others to fight crime and the fear of crime, including terrorism, enforcing laws while safeguarding the constitutional rights of all people, providing quality service to all of our residents and visitors, and creating a work environment in which we recruit, train, and develop an exceptional team of employees. All members of the Philadelphia Police Department must dedicate themselves to accomplishing this mission. Whether sworn or civilian, patrol, specialized units, or administrative offices, every unit is essential in making the Philadelphia Police Department a model of excellence in policing.

Project Name:

Optimization of Staffing Allocation & Use of Civilians
Project Type: 
Policy Analysis; Strategic Plan

Project Overview:

In light of COVID 19, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. are experiencing the effects of the state and local budgets prompted by significant declines in revenue from the pandemic. Many police departments are now considering how to address hiring of new officers as budgets are shrinking, coupled with the national conversation focused on defunding the police. Commissioner Outlaw has deemed the Philadelphia Police Department to be a learning organization. As we move to operate as a culture focused on performance excellence, there is no better time to partner with the Fels Lab. In the spirit of the importance of capstone projects and building capacity for students, we welcome the opportunity to host this project in support of developing of best practices for the field through critical examination through policy research, creative thinking, and data analysis.

In Philadelphia, the City Council cut the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) budget by 33 million dollars.   This cut has meant that PPD will not hire new officers until December 2021. This coupled with the fact that the PPD historically has had and currently has a significant number of sworn personnel in administrative positions; now is the time to determine if there are opportunities to shift officers back to the field and add civilian positions. This is a question that police executives are being asked to consider across the country.

With this, the PPD under the leadership of Commissioner Outlaw, is looking to reimagine policing and how to best deploy resources that are most effective to be responsive of crime and violence reduction, as well as balancing community policing principals. Police executives are now pausing to focus on the importance of using civilian staff to support police operations of deploying officers in the field.  For policing, this is not an ‘either/or’ scenario, it is about retooling agencies for efficiency and effectiveness going forward, as budgets will continue to be reduced as the pandemic continues.

Civilianization has the potential to make agencies more effective by enabling them to put more officers on the street, by diversifying the agencies’ workforce skills, and by increasing agencies’ efficiency and cost-effectiveness.  The practice allows sworn officers to focus on more specialized work while handing administrative tasks to capable civilians.  Since civilian personnel are not required to undergo the same comprehensive training as uniformed police, civilian employees are able to receive less intensive training for specific roles. Removing officers from these positions ultimately demands less training and a lower salary, with fewer overhead costs due to reduced fringe benefits. In addition civilianization of police agencies can serve to improve relations between the community and law enforcement, allowing departments to become more familiar with problems affecting certain areas of their city or state and enabling civilians to feel as though they’re helping in ways that will affect their cities in the long run.

We think the Fels Lab Capstone project would be a perfect match for someone focused on public policy and public administration, especially at this critical time in policing. Commissioner Outlaw released the Action Plan for Crime and Violence  and one of her action plan items under organizational excellence is to conduct a civilianization study that would inform PPD to increase civilian employment within the Philadelphia Police Department. This study would serve to address the impacts of the hiring freeze, coupled with the increased number of officers who are leaving due to natural attrition, and those who have opted to leave the profession following the death of Mr. George Floyd and national civil unrest.


PPD is currently conducting a staffing study to determine its baseline staffing levels for patrol.  A second study is underway, to understand police calls for service, focusing where an alternative response could be provided.  With these two studies underway, slated to be completed by December 2020, the proposed Capstone project would result in the MPA student conducting the civilianization study, delivering a final report, along with a PPT (in person or virtually, dependent on COVID 19 restrictions) to Commissioner Outlaw and the Executive team at the Philadelphia Police Department.

Project Timeline: The PPD envisions that this project will start in January 2021 and be completed on or before May 2021.   The PPD is committed to providing full support to this Capstone Project, by providing the necessary access to staff, data and other resources identified through the Capstone process.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326