St. Paul officials released a wide-ranging study of the city's police department this morning.
It called the department a good one, but said that it needs close attention as it grows and transitions from being a medium-sized department to a large department.
The force has added dozens of officers in recent years, but the study by Ohio-based Berkshire Advisors says the command structure, information technology and equipment haven't kept pace with that growth.
"What we're talking about is changing how the department does its business in some fairly deep ways, and those sorts of changes don't happen overnight," said Mike Walker, one of the study's authors. "But there's nothing in here that won't happen over time."
Specifically, the study said the department needs to complete a transition to decentralized command, shifting decision-making more completely to officers who supervise various police units.
The study also said the department needs to modernize its accounting and finance technology -- computer systems more than 20 years old don't allow administrators to efficiently track how the department spends its money.
There were some suggestions aimed at the street-level force, as well. The study recommended eliminating the mounted patrol unit, giving more than a half dozen duties to civilians, and changing working hours and conditions for sworn personnel.
The study recommended making the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission more independent of the department, to make it more transparent and more credible to the public.
Mayor Chris Coleman called the shortcomings the "unintended consequences" of the department's growth, and zeroed in particularly on a finding that the department had lost its focus on street-level crime prevention efforts.
"It's clear that we need to recommit ourselves to community policing," Coleman said.
Police chief John Harrington welcomed the report.
"Given the tight public dollars that we work in, and the environment with lots of budget cuts and lots of social ills that we have to confront, we needed this assessment," said Harrington.
A separate report, assessing the department's handling of security during the Republican National Convention, is also due out later today.