Detailed processes for emergency response work and demand and resource management can be recognisably modelled using system dynamics. The Emergency Service Incident Model (ESIM) successfully joins together the very short timescales associated with providing an emergency service to the public, to the far longer periods involved in planning for the recruitment and training of police patrol officers within Devon and Cornwall Police. A system dynamics model is presented which can help inform decisions on patrol officer staffing requirements. The impact of a range of policies can be studied to determine new and better ways to resolve the supply–demand equation that delivers frontline policing services to the public. A number of alternative policy interventions directed at improving police patrol officer incident resolution are highlighted in this study and related scenarios are tested. Results show that particular attention should be directed towards better management of the backlog of routine incidents. Copyright © 2011 System Dynamics Society.