This five-part series explores the issue of police department staffing in Galveston, which contains important civic questions about whether the city is doing right by its residents, its police employees, its other employees and its own future when it comes to public safety spending.

Among the conventional wisdoms about police staffing is that since Galveston is a tourist town, demand for police service fluctuates sharply, offering an opportunity to hire part-time police officers to augment the force during peak times. But how well do the underlying assumption and proposed solution hold up?

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GALVESTON — Police Chief Henry Porretto has a dream and a nightmare. The dream is about Galveston being named among the top-10 safest cities in the country. The nightmare is about the city sliding back into the level of drug-induced crime — everything from gang violence to the pettiest of thefts — that plagued it from the mid-1980s through the late 1990s.

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