AUGUSTA – Not enough police patrolling city streets? Or more than necessary?

Too many supervisors, not enough dispatchers? Or vice versa?

And just what sort of work schedule should police work to best serve and protect citizens?

Those are among the questions city officials hope to get answered in a proposed $52,000 study of the Augusta Police Department.

In response to a City Council directive to have an outside source look at police staffing levels, City Manager William Bridgeo recommended to councilors the city hire the International Association of Chiefs of Police to conduct a comprehensive study of the department.

If councilors authorize the study, the nonprofit association would assess staffing levels, organizational culture, workload, management, staff capabilities, efficiency, policies and promotion procedures as part of an overall review of nearly all police services.

Councilors discussed the study at a meeting Thursday during which Police Chief Wayne McCamish announced his plans to retire.

McCamish’s retirement — planned for December — and the study of the department he’s led for the past 18 years appear unrelated.

McCamish, who said he’s retiring due to anticipated changes to the city’s policy on retiree health benefits, spoke in favor of having the study done Thursday, encouraging councilors to heed its findings.

“I’d hope, if the city chooses to do this study, the council would also stand behind whatever the report is that comes out,” McCamish said. “If it says we have too many officers, then we have to take that into account and act appropriately. And if it says we lack in a particular area, I’d expect council would take action on that, as well.”

McCamish said a similar study of staffing was done 22 years ago and made recommendations for changes that resulted in the department’s current structure.

Funding for the study would come from the Police Department’s existing budget. Bridgeo credited McCamish with saving enough so the study would not require an additional appropriation.

Councilors seemed receptive to the idea — though some expressed concerns about cost.

Multiple councilors said they have heard from constituents who don’t feel the city has enough police on patrol.

“I do get people who say it doesn’t seem like there are many police on the street,” Councilor Cecil Munson said.

The proposal is scheduled to go to councilors for a vote at their next meeting, Thursday.

Bridgeo has met with representatives of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a nonprofit corporation representing some 20,000 law enforcement executives, which he believes to be the “most qualified and appropriate entity to conduct a study of our department.”

Bridgeo said an outside, neutral source could help resolve some potential issues in ongoing negotiations with the department’s three labor unions, including scheduling, promotion and policies on training, equipment and uniforms.

“I think we’d gain an awful lot of good information out of this in many areas, not only staffing,” Bridgeo said.

“Things have come up in negotiations. Some of those questions, frankly, I’m just dying to put to an outside consulting firm if it’d help us come to some resolution.”

The study was not put out to public bid. Bridgeo said there are private firms who do such studies but said they are likely to charge just as much as the chiefs’ association and may not be of as high quality.

Bridgeo said the study, if councilors approve it, would take between four and five months to complete.