Though new tools and tech have continually changed policing there is one tool that has experienced few fundamental changes over the years: the human mind. Law enforcement officers practice their profession in some of the most complex working conditions imaginable. While the value of new, physical tools used by officers is hard to dispute, it is new research into the function of the mind in these demanding working conditions that is producing new thinking in the world of law enforcement. Relatively recent breakthroughs in neuroscience and in the social sciences are contributing to a new understanding of how law enforcement officers use their social skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy to better do their jobs. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the specific ways in which this new understanding is changing law enforcement training.

Research-Based Police Training

There is a long-standing practice in policing of incorporating the latest in philosophy, real-world experience, and social-science research into law enforcement training curriculums. This goes back to the foundation of modern policing in which new ideas and observations around industrialism and urbanism were, in turn, used as arguments for a professionalized approach to law enforcement. Moving into the 20th century, discourse and research emanating from the worlds of psychology, sociology, and criminology led to a deeper examination of the very role of police in society. Out of this grew technologies like COMPSTAT and philosophies like community policing which, respectively, served to better understand the broader societal problems facing communities as well as proposing a remedy for these problems.

law enforcement social science training

As science, technology, and our understanding of human interaction increase at a pace never before seen, these new areas of study are being applied to policing. Over the last 30 years we’ve seen the field of neuroscience emerge as a new tool to better understand how officers process the world around them. Using some of the same techniques and tools high-performance athletes use to evaluate their capabilities, researchers are studying the interplay of cognition, muscle memory, perception, and much more and how they relate to officer performance. These breakthroughs coming from the study of human interaction and cognition are leading to innovations in law enforcement training that will improve the working environment for officers as well as community relations and perceptions of law enforcement.

Countering Implicit Bias

Common in reform dialog are calls for training to address implicit bias. The goal is to counter unconscious biases people hold about others that impact reactions and split-second decision-making. These biases exist throughout different countries and cultures, affecting everyone from doctors and police officers to more common professions like store clerks and restaurant servers. The challenge for educators and law enforcement trainers is finding meaningful ways to counter a bias that for most is, by definition, a product of the unconscious mind.

The prevailing notion is that by being aware of and understanding these biases, people can take the first steps in learning to work to improve reactions based upon them. While there is some research that suggests these trainings can be helpful, there are other studies that indicate these types of training, if executed poorly, can actually have the opposite effect. Research into the efficacy of implicit bias training is ongoing and it is generally agreed that further research is needed to fine-tune learning approaches for maximum benefit.

De-escalation

It has been stated that “with the possible exception of implicit bias training, no other training is more demanded by policymakers, police executives, […and] citizens than de-escalation training”. Often, these two types of training work hand-in-hand as a part of a broader effort for training-led reform efforts. De-escalation is also often seen as an outgrowth of the core values of community policing, another prominent and ongoing reform effort.

Training typically focuses on elements like verbal and non-verbal communication styles (body language, etc.), building rapport with subjects, and, when needed, physical intervention techniques that minimize the risk of harm. As a relatively new type of police training, there is still much to learn about the best practices and methods by which to instruct officers on de-escalation. A primary point of discussion in research as to its efficacy revolves around maintaining officer safety and that of the general public.

Interpersonal skills

 Not so much a defined training curriculum as it is a philosophy, there are many researchers in the field of policing that believe a more holistic and multi-disciplinary approach in policing starts with an emphasis on recruiting and training officers for interpersonal skills. Policing is an extremely complex profession that requires officers to be prepared for a huge variety of interactions at the beginning of each shift. A growing body of research is showing that officers benefit from employing emotional intelligence and empathy much in the same way their other technical training prepares them for the unpredictability of the job.

Much of the fundamental framework of this philosophy relies on research that shows empathy is critical for building public trust on both the micro and macro levels. Using empathy on the job can be a critical factor in many instances; for example, responding to a domestic violence call – where gaining the trust of the victim is crucial. It can also foster growth of compassion and the reduction of compassion fatigue within an agency which tends to promote a culture of peer support that is vital in helping officers deal with the stress of their profession.

Always Improving

The likes of threat assessment techniques, intelligence gathering, and technical expertise will always be major components of law enforcement training. However, as researchers continue to hypothesize and gather evidence, it is the study of the role of the mind and human intelligence that’s arguably growing the quickest in terms of its importance.

While more research is, as always, needed to refine our understanding of the importance of the mind and emotional intelligence in policing one thing is becoming clearer – officers and departments that embrace training focusing on these factors tend to see better outcomes for their officers and the citizens within the communities they serve. Benchmark Analytics supports these departments and their leaders by providing research-based police force management and early intervention systems aimed at elevating the profession of policing.

It would be an understatement to say that in the last 12 months the world has changed in ways no one could have predicted. A global pandemic disrupted social norms, healthcare infrastructure and economic stability. Add to that a series of high-profile law enforcement incidents that ultimately resulted in renewed calls for police reform — and it’s easy to see how historians will look back at this year as a pivotal moment for change in the face of challenge and adversity.

One of the outcomes was an unusually active legislative environment, with states from coast to coast focused on enhanced as well as new police reform legislation. During this tenure of rapid change that continues today, it’s important to step back and look at the big picture in state-level policing reforms — to more thoroughly understand them in a broader context. According to a recent analysis by The Washington Post more than 2,000 policing-related bills have been introduced across the country since June of 2020. By unpacking and understanding the broad aims of these bills, departments and their leaders can better anticipate potential reform efforts that affect them and implement more effective change management strategies in response.

state-driven police reformTypically, most states have a pre-determined legislative period, with some not even meeting on an annual basis. In the last 12 months, 23 of them held special legislative sessions outside of their normal legislative periods. While many of these sessions were called to tackle the impacts of the pandemic and provide special funding for first responders, it also gave lawmakers the opportunity to address urgent calls for police reform specific to use of force as well as accountability and transparency.

Newly compiled numbers from the National Conference of State Legislatures show that almost half of the states enacted some form of legislation that changed the way police operate. These reform efforts covered everything from physical interactions during arrests to record-keeping and compliance. In addition to these 24, several more states passed oversight reforms, calling for commissions or other groups to study ways to improve standards and transparency.

Two of the most common types of reform have been those addressing the use of neck-restraints, or chokeholds, and those mandating an officer’s duty to report or intervene. 18 states and the District of Columbia passed laws limiting the use of neck restraints with ten states banning them outright. Other legislation passed in 12 states requires officers to report and, in many cases, attempt to intervene to prevent out-of-policy instances of force by a fellow officer. Further, some states have enacted broader, more comprehensive reform measures — for example:

  • Colorado Governor Polis signed into law a broad accountability bill titled Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity, where agencies will be required – among other things – to report all details of all use of force incidents that result in death or serious bodily injury; track all instances when a peace officer resigned under investigation for violation of policy; and maintain a database on officer de-certifications
  • Governor Sununu of New Hampshire signed an executive order establishing the state’s Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency. Benchmark Analytics was selected to develop and implement a state capture of employment, training, and disciplinary history as well as certification across 200+ statewide law enforcement agencies.
  • Washington state Governor Inslee recently signed a dozen police accountability bills into law, notably including the creation of a statewide database of police use of force incidents, through the Washington State Office of the Attorney General.
  • New York, where Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that every law enforcement agency in the state adopt a reform plan by April 1, 2021. Titled New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative, the order requires that agencies develop clear policies specific to Use of Force and Early Intervention.
  • In Virginia, Governor Northam signed sweeping legislation comprised of a dozen bills covering everything from use of force and tactics to crisis intervention protocol, all areas requiring additional training and certification for officers.
  • The state of Utah passed several law enforcement bills signed into law by Governor Cox, including requiring Utah agencies to meet the FBI’s standards for reporting use of force — as well as setting up a panel to consider and make recommendations on data collection.
  • After the passage and signing of the Minnesota Police Accountability Act of 2020, Benchmark Analytics partnered with Minnesota POST to implement a statewide portal to capture internal affairs misconduct complaints across 400+ of the state’s law enforcement agencies.

Additionally, some states are mandating the reporting of incident data to both state and federal agencies. These reporting requirements as part of oversight trends are generally aimed at increasing the dataset available to the communities that agencies serve — as well as policymakers, researchers and data scientists. One of the thoughts behind these new requirements is that, with a larger dataset to study, it will better enable evidence-based decision-making at multiple levels of government and law enforcement.

Most observers see these legislative actions as the beginning, rather than conclusion of a process towards meaningful change in the way law enforcement agencies track and manage their forces. Comprehensive personnel management systems can make a substantial difference in the ease of which this data is monitored internally and reported out to various agencies and oversight bodies.

The Benchmark Management System (BMS), for example, features reporting tools designed to simplify data retrieval and review, putting incident-based data for individual officers, comparative stats for units, and a host of other data analysis features in one, simple-to-implement tool. This not only allows leaders to ensure accurate and timely milestone reporting to satisfy the requirements of any new legislation mandates, but day in and day out it empowers them to monitor performance data in real time, giving them an up-to-the-minute picture of the officers under their command. BMS also includes a next-generation Training Management System to help agencies track and manage any additional requirements and certifications as a result of new reform standards.

Law enforcement agencies are experiencing a time of rapid change in the way they do their work. New legislation will undoubtedly continue to shape not only law enforcement practices, but also training and the way data is managed and reported. By having a deeper understanding of not just the mandates of new legislation but the trends they represent, law enforcement agencies and their leaders can better rise to the occasion, ensuring their officers are well-equipped to navigate these changes.

Our next article will be looking at the role that state POST organizations are expected to play in these latest reform efforts.

The following is part 2 of 2 in our IACP Leadership Series conversation between Benchmark CEO Ron Huberman and the legendary Chuck Ramsey, former Chief of Police, Washington, DC; former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia; and Co-Chair of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In this entry, Mr. Ramsey underscores the importance of knowing one’s community as well as the importance of creating a culture that reflects what is expected and will not be tolerated.

RH: Chuck, let’s say you wake up tomorrow, and you look around and you have a uniform on and you’re a chief again in a major city in America. I think certainly from my dialogue with chiefs across the country – and you talk to chiefs every day – it’s probably never been harder to be a police chief — but here you are. You got a large police force. You have all the challenges that every city has, whether it’s Chicago or Baltimore or Philly or DC or you name it. What do you do? How do you start to lead in the current environment? It might be the same playbook, but what is on your list of  ‘I have got to get these things right from the start’?

CR: First of all, let me just say that I think the tougher job than being a police chief in today’s environment is being a police officer in today’s environment. At least as a police chief, you have some way of influencing the current and the future. Whereas as a police officer, you’re at the whim of whatever it is that’s going on. I just want to just say that because it’s tough, very tough for the men and women that are out there trying to do the job the best they can. I think it starts with communication, both internal and external. I think it starts there.

I think it’s important to have those lines of communication with people, even those people whose opinion and whose views may be totally – in fact, it’s even more important – totally opposite from what you believe and what you feel. You have to at least try to establish lines of communication. Take a serious look at where you are and what it is that you’re doing as an agency, and you might need to have someone from the outside come in and take a critical look because when you’re a part of it, you’re so close to it, you don’t always see it. What are we doing? How are we managing our personnel? Do we really know what’s going on out there? Are we really stepping in?

Let’s take early intervention for an example. If an officer has a history of engaging in certain kind of misconduct…and it may not be use of force. Could be verbal. Could be anything, but it’s not consistent with policy. Do we know who they are? I’ve often said the good news is you can identify them; the bad news is you’ve identified them now you’ve got to do something with it. The key is, now that we know, what do we have in place to change the behavior of the individual? Because police agencies are primarily punishment-driven and giving a person three days off doesn’t necessarily change behavior. What is it that we’re going to do if that’s really the goal?

Early intervention, having an information system or personnel management system that will identify individuals at your earliest possible point…put in place those mechanisms to be able to intervene early on and say, ‘Hey, we just don’t do that’. Do it in a way in which it goes beyond just that one officer but the other officers too — because to me, real change in a police department isn’t going to come from whoever’s sitting on top or a software. It’s going to be when the culture of the organization itself will not tolerate certain behaviors that are out of the norm because that’s not what the agency stands for. It’s not what the culture stands for, but you have to use these tools to get you there. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s the kind of thing I’d be focused on right now.

Learn from those that have experience. Learn from Minneapolis. Learn from these other cities. Even back in the days when we were more concerned with terrorist attacks…if it occurred somewhere else, I would ask my people, ‘Okay, if that happened here, how would we handle it? What are our resources? What are our capabilities? What can we do? Do we actually know what we can do, and more importantly, what we’re incapable of doing’? You have to do that sort of thing. If that officer was a problem, how come they didn’t identify him? If he was a member of our department, would we have identified him? If we had identified him, what we would have done with him?

RH: The one thing that just struck me so much when I came back to Benchmark after running the Chicago Public School System…I spent an inordinate amount of time asking the question, “How do we make our teachers more effective?” We had some phenomenal talent, unbelievably great teachers. We had some teachers who struggled. Ultimately, the idea was never let’s be punitive…let’s go be disciplinary with the teachers who are struggling. The collective question of the organization was, ‘How do we invest in these teachers to become effective’? In the world of policing in the year 2020, in the history of humankind, if you were to say show me an evidence base of interventions that help police be better…that enabled them to do what is an incredibly hard job more effectively — it doesn’t exist. I’m excited to say, we’re trying in partnership with our academic partners and others to develop it, but we’ve got a long way to go in the profession in supporting the frontline in that way. These are super important things you’ve always talked about.

Regarding culture — something that I’ve heard you talk about over and over again with tremendous passion is the role of that frontline supervision…your street sergeants and others. Can you talk about what you did and what you would do as a chief to get that supervision? The command staff is easier. You’re not talking about 500 people. You’re talking about folks you can directly talk to. But when you start getting down to lieutenants and sergeants who are ultimately in charge for all practical purposes more than almost anyone else, how do you win over those ranks in terms of your vision, your values, where you want the culture to go?

CR: There are a couple things. You point out a critical rank in the department. That’s that first line supervisor. That’s that sergeant. Because I remember, when I was a young police officer, I cared more about who my sergeant was than I cared about who the district commander was because I had to deal with the sergeant every day. District commander was pretty much a picture on the wall. If I was unlucky, I’d be walking down the hall at the same time he was, and you turn your head so he didn’t pay any attention to you. We’ve got to invest in our people in terms of their training and education, and there’s just not enough of it.

Some departments have pre-service training, let’s say, for sergeants. They put them through all the things — your roles, your responsibilities, and so forth. Some go so far as to even have an FTO system for new sergeants where they match them up with veteran sergeants for a period of time to learn what’s going on. I think all those things are important, but there’s a basic flaw in the system of policing in our promotional system.

The only way you can make more money in the average police agency is through the promotional process, which means that you’ve got people who are smart enough to pass a multiple-choice exam, but they have no interest in leading others. They have no interest in supervising, but they need more money. How do you carve out those folks and have people that truly are committed to leadership, truly are committed to that? You mentioned that at the top it’s easier – maybe in some ways but in other ways not so much – because we don’t do anything in policing to develop the next generation of leaders, or at least not enough. We have 18,000 police departments. Do you honestly think you’ve got 18,000 good police chiefs and sheriffs? I know we don’t. Until we really address the issue of really grooming people and preparing them, not only for the current role that they’re going to be in but get them ready for the next step.

When I went to DC, and I’ve seen it in other agencies, they didn’t even have a good job description for any rank above police officer, entry-level. We had to create one for sergeant, create one for lieutenant, create one for captain. In the Washington DC police department, they did not have it. What was the knowledge, skills, and ability needed for this rank, assuming that you have all that when you make the new rank, but what’s different? What is it that you need? How do we prepare you in advance? Not wait until you get there and then find out you can’t handle it. Now we got to try to bury you somewhere. What do we do in order to try to prepare you? It’s complicated. It’s complex, but it’s fixable. It’s going to really take an effort to really get serious about leadership development in police agencies, and don’t wait until somebody makes sergeant. From the time a person comes in and you know this person has their eye on not staying at that level forever, what are we doing to enhance their abilities?

RH: One of the things I think we make very hard on ourselves is we let the lawyers have too much of a voice because ultimately, what has happened is promotional exams in too many places have been reduced to what you said, which is a multiple-choice exam. A multiple-choice exam doesn’t identify ethics. It doesn’t identify leadership. You can usually answer policy right. You might be able to answer situational awareness questions right, but test taking and leadership are two completely different pieces. If you don’t make sergeant, you’re not going to make chief.

One of the research projects that we have going on at Benchmark with our partners is this — because we have people’s performance data, how do they actually do as the police. Can they navigate with good de-escalation skills? Can they navigate where they have good activity? Do they navigate in a way where there is powerful community engagement and the like? Can we use that data where the baseline for promotion becomes your performance on the job where there’s never a promotional exam? Because we have everything we need to know who’s the leader today, and let’s use that information as a way to understand promotion versus a one-time high stakes exam that ultimately may or may not pay off for folks.

CR: The other thing, if I could just add one thing. Most systems are geared toward identifying people who aren’t doing things right as opposed to identifying people who are doing things right and then going back and digging a little deeper to find out what are those characteristics…what are those traits…what are those things about people who are able to successfully de-escalate situations? People who really show good leadership — what is it about them that distinguishes them from the person who’s one of our frequent fliers, who’s always into something that they got no business being in?

You could say some of this is recruitment and hiring and all that, but it’s more than that once you’re on the job, I think. I think if we focus more on that and at least make that a big part of the picture…because when you really stop and think about it, what would a good 21st-century police officer look like? What are those skills and abilities? What are those talents that they need to bring to the table? We need to be building that image, and I think if we did that and if we had a system that could actually help us do that, that would be absolutely remarkable.

RH: Here’s what I would tell you, Chuck. This is my thesis on it. I can tell you as a research organization – and for those who don’t know, we were born out of research done at the University of Chicago – is I would argue we know that today, meaning we have ways that we can assess what is the community’s perception, community engagement for someone. We know their activity level. We know how they use force. We know whether they get citizen complaints. We know if they’re effective depending on the job they’re in, if they’re effective preliminary investigators. We see it because we can baseline.

We know, here’s what the average officer does. Here’s what someone does, and if they do it in a way where folks don’t get hurt and they’re able to still be an effective police officer, there is a pathway to say we can find the best and brightest among us and find a way that we put them on a trajectory to great leadership. Because ultimately, I’m agreeing with you, Chuck, every time you said it. Today is Chuck Ramsey’s greatest hits that I’ve heard over many, many years of being someone who has followed you, is we can change the equation. Because, as you’ve said, those frontline supervisors, if we pick the right ones, every officer in their command is ultimately going to get to the right place because ultimately, it’s their watch. Everyone else is a picture on the wall.

CR: That opens the door for better education of police chiefs to know what that 21st-century cop should look like. What are the skills and abilities? Because that drives your recruiting…because if you know that, then that’s who you go after. If you look at many police departments, we say we want people who are community-oriented. We want people who have good de-escalation skills. We want diversity. We list all this stuff. Play the recruitment video of that same department. What are they showing? SWAT knocking down the door…helicopters…boats going down the river or lake. It’s all the Type A personality stuff. Who do you think you’re going to get to apply?

It’s not that you don’t need some people who can do that stuff because you do, but is that what an average police officer does on a regular basis? No. We have that information. We know it, but we got to share it and make sure that everybody is aware because that drives so much if we really want to change. Because who you hire today is who you’re stuck with for the next 30 years. You better make a good decision upfront because if all you’re relying on is being able to fire somebody or discipline him for the next 30 years, is that really what you want to do? I don’t think so.

RH: We are grateful for your service to our nation. We’re grateful for what you’ve done for policing. We’re certainly grateful for your role here at Benchmark. We appreciate your time and your ability to share all that great expertise and experience you built over all those years. Thank you, Chuck.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Across the board ‑ from municipal, state and national legislators to law enforcement and community leaders ‑ Community Policing is seen as an integral component for creating and fostering enhanced relationships between police departments and the constituents they serve. The International Association of Chiefs of Police recently shared that, “Community members are not merely the recipients of police services they are essential partners in maintaining public safety.”

It’s that very partnership that’s serving as the foundation for agencies and communities across the US to work cooperatively in developing or enhancing their individualized community policing programs. These initiatives have never been more important – or challenging – than they are today.

By understanding the fundamentals of community policing and engaging in community policing best practices . . . as well has having effective tools in place to implement recommended strategies, law enforcement agencies can answer the call for community policing.

What exactly does community policing mean?
U.S. Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services (DOJ COPS Office), defines community policing as “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.”

Community Policing

The DOJ COPS Office further explains that community policing requires agencies to become an integral part of the community, rather than solely a response force. This includes forming collaborative partnerships between the agency and community organizations, communicating with data that provides accurate and timely information, and engaging in proactive problem-solving together.

According to Police Chief Magazine,Without a positive relationship with your community, your agency and its officers will not be able to collect valuable intelligence from community members, and it will be difficult to sustain your current policing efforts. Your agency may conduct very successful sweeps and arrests, but you won’t be able to endure this effort if your law enforcement agency does not engage and empower the community, key citizens, faith-based groups, and other active community groups. In addition, as chiefs and leaders, we have all experienced challenges and tough times in our careers. A positive relationship with your community will prevent or lessen those challenges because the community will be a source of support during tough times.”

Research has shown there is robust evidence that community policing increases satisfaction with police, opinions of police legitimacy, and citizen perceptions of disorder. Additionally, some communities have even shared that their approach to community policing has contributed to a decrease in crime. One agency in Virginia said that homicides decreased by 50 percent from 2016 to 2019, and the reduction was due to the community and police working together with a common goal. Another agency in Florida states that creating community outreach initiatives helped reduce crime incidents by over 20 percent from 2016 to 2019.

How do agencies create a community policing plan?
Developing a community policing plan can be a collaborative and valuable strategy for agencies. Effective plans reflect the priorities and perspectives of the community, establish clear implementation activities and designated outcomes, and communicate actions that contribute to the overall mission.

While it is important for agencies to create policies that are unique to the communities they serve, accreditation programs have developed standards that provide best practices for law enforcement — including standards on community policing. For example, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc (CALEA), has national community policing standards in Chapter 45 which includes standard 45.2.1 regarding partnerships. The standard states “The community involvement function provides the following, at a minimum a) establishing liaisons with existing community organizations or establishing community groups where they are needed; b) assisting in the development of community involvement policies for the agency; c) publicizing agency objectives, community problems, and successes; d) conveying information transmitted from citizens’ organizations to the agency; e) improving agency practices bearing on police community interaction; f) developing problem oriented or community policing strategies.”

The National League of Cities has also shared that there are thematic tenets local elected officials should consider when developing community policing plans. They include: 1) Foster trust; 2) Align policies with community values; 3) Embrace new technologies; 4) Prioritize community engagement; 5) Invest in training; 6) Remember to cultivate the wellbeing of officers.

To achieve the National League of Cities tenets, the association suggests that law enforcement agency training programs should “encompass the core values of the community policing philosophy” and that technology can “offer opportunities to build transparency, trust and legitimacy into day-to-day law enforcement operations.”

A good example of that would be the Benchmark Analytics Training Management System, which can help agencies deliver up-to-date training for every officer, in compliance with accreditation standards or guidelines established by the municipality or state.

What are next steps?
Community policing represents much more than a new future for law enforcement agencies, but the opportunity for communities and police to work hand-in-hand to solve problems, build mutual trust and respect and keep their neighborhoods safe.

Community Engagement Technology

To learn about how technology tools can help your agency with community policing, request to connect with a Benchmark Analytics representative here.

The Covid-19 pandemic did not stop law enforcement officers from patrolling areas by car, motorcycle or even foot, directing traffic during signal malfunctions or accidents, assisting in processing crimes, or executing other duties required to protect and serve their community. While these might be considered routine activities, they still put officers at high risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Likewise, new requirements and responsibilities such as responding to complaints for shelter-in-place violations have increased face-to-face interactions, as well as Covid-19 exposure, for law enforcement personnel.

Law Enforcement COVID 19

But even after state and municipal shelter-in place restrictions end, exposure risks will persist. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), communities will be dealing with the virus through the summer months, with a potential second wave coming in the Fall. That means that agencies and their officers will need to maintain their diligence for the foreseeable future.

Law Enforcement Technology that Support Agency Workforce Challenges

Overcoming this pandemic will take resilience and time, but it is important for us to tackle these new challenges with innovative solutions. With the abiding impact of Covid-19, public safety agencies need to determine the most efficient strategies for controlling its effect and managing fluctuations in workforce availabilities. While dealing with these peaks and valleys isn’t new to some public safety agencies, it’s safe to say that most have not experienced limited workforce challenges that could last several weeks, if not months.

The Benchmark Covid Impact Management System (CIMS) was developed to address these challenges. With CIMS, public safety agencies have a single-source, turnkey software platform — designed to report and track all Covid-related incidents in one unique, easy-to-administer and security-protected location. CIMS provides agencies essential reports which include Potential Exposure, Sick Leave, Test Tracker, and Return to Service.

According to the National Police Foundation COVID-19 Law Enforcement Impact Dashboard, nearly every state has had a law enforcement officer exposed to the virus. Law Enforcement TechnologyOur Potential Exposure Report is completed when a police officer or department staff member has reported that they may have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus. It includes:

  • Definitions/guidelines of exposure and close contact
  • Date, time, location and nature of potential exposure
  • Name and contact information of individual exposed
  • Description of any health-related symptoms since contact
  • Recommendations for further actions

The Sick Leave Report should be used when a department employee has officially gone on sick leave due to exposure, and provides data on:

  • Date leave effective, symptoms and Covid-19 related queries
  • Results of any medical tests conducted during sick leave
  • List of contacts within and outside of the agency
  • Information on specifics of quarantine, if applicable
  • Details of any future work-related conflicts due to leave

The CIMS Test Tracker Report provides relevant information on any Covid-19 test taken by an officer or staff member. It includes:

  • Reason for taking test and details of exposure, if applicable
  • Date, time, type and location of test
  • Symptoms exhibited at time of test and following test
  • Results reported for the Covid-19 test

Lastly, the Return to Service Report should be completed and reviewed before an officer can return to work following a sick leave, and summarizes:

  • All symptoms reported since beginning of sick leave
  • Answers to all Covid-19 related inquiries
  • Current condition of employee on sick leave
  • Requirements of return and anticipated date of return
  • Review and recommendations for return to service

While the COVID-19 pandemic has formed new obstacles for public safety, the Benchmark Covid Impact Management System provides agencies the information they need to manage their workforce efficiently and effectively. To learn more about CIMS, as well as view a demo of the system, visit https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/cims/.

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) has impacted communities across the country, as law enforcement and other public sector agencies prepare for the short- and long-term effects of this virus. This includes having tools in place to support staffing, training and communication; having ample supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE); being prepared for evolving community requests; and delivering plans and procedures that reflect recommendations from local, state and federal authorities. COVID-19 Funding

To ensure that public safety agencies across the U.S. are prepared for the current impact of COVID-19, as well as what lies ahead, Federal grant resources have been issued.

Federal Grant Resources: BJA-CESF
On March 30, 2020 a grant solicitation was shared by the Office of Justice Programs  regarding the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) program. The funding program has $850 million available and the BJA intends to make 1,873 awards.

The BJA-CESF program will provide funding to assist eligible states, local units of government, and tribes in preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus. BJA -CESF

In the solicitation, the BJA shared that “States, U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia, units of local government, and federally recognized tribal governments that were identified as eligible for funding under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program are eligible to apply under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding (CESF) Program solicitation. Only the State Administering Agency that applied for FY 2019 JAG funding for a state/territory may apply for the state allocation of CESF funding.”

The eligible allocations for the FY 2020 CESF Program can be found at: https://bja.ojp.gov/program/fy20-cesf-allocations

What will BJA-CESF be used for?
Funds awarded under the CESF program will be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. Allowable projects and purchases include, but are not limited to:

  • Overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical PPE)
  • Hiring
  • Supplies (such as gloves, mask, sanitizer)
  • Training (such as training management software for organization-wide virtual training — as well as cross-training of personnel for temporary duty reassignment to assure proper coverage of essential duties)
  • Travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas)
  • Addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails and detention centers.

BJA-CESF program next steps
The application for BJA-CESF is due May 29, 2020. Cities and states are awarded funding on an ongoing, rolling basis from now till the application due date.

For more information how the BJA-CESF program works and grant submission help, visit our Grants Page at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/covid19-grants/.

The importance of COVID-19 data collection
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has shared that collecting data and documenting response protocols for future review and assessment during this time is important as well. “While pandemics rarely occur, an agency can learn a lot about its emergency response by studying past efforts,” as stated in IACP’s resource Organizational Readiness: Considerations for Preparing Your Agency for COVID-19. Types of data include, but are not strictly limited to, COVID-19-related calls for service, officer exposure, staffing numbers, and health and wellness measures of officers.

COVID-19 Data Collection

To that, agencies are partnering with personnel management software providers for monitoring, tracking and reporting data. For example, the Benchmark Management System® can create custom COVID-19 Exposure Forms that capture interactions related to coronavirus — to help identify trends, facilitate proactive intervention and help keep department personnel serving on the frontlines safe. This data can also be used post-pandemic to justify reimbursement of expenditures at the state and federal levels.

Visit benchmarkanalytics.com to learn more.

 

The annual Midwest Security and Police Conference and Expo (MSPCE) 2019 was recently held at the Tinley Park Convention Center. The conference brought together law enforcement (LE) leaders from across Illinois within a 35,000-foot exhibit hall – and included informational sessions presented by security and LE professionals, professors, psychologists, authors and financial experts.

Benchmark Analytics had the opportunity to exhibit, as well as learn more about the challenges and opportunities in 21st century policing. Here are some of our key takeaways from participating at MSCPE 2019:

Agencies want to track community engagement.

It’s important for law enforcement agencies to establish public trust, and many agencies participate in community engagement activities to support this initiative. Just a few examples of community engagement activities include meeting local business owners, attending meetings and events, or participating in community projects. Many law enforcement leaders at MSCPE were interested to learn more about how they could track these efforts.Community Engagement

Being able to track and manage community interactions provides agencies the data they need to understand what’s contributing to proactive enforcement and community partnerships. It also provides a framework for leveraging that momentum to build sustainable positive engagement with their communities.

As an example, the Benchmark Community Engagement platform tracks and manages the time and effort officers spend engaging with the community, as well as records feedback received. This help agencies collaborate from an informed position and ensure their department is continuously responsive to community-based issues and activities.

Officer wellness goes beyond physical health.

MSPCE 2019 provided an informational session, PTS, Why Cops Experience Traumatic Stress Differently and discussed the importance of building resiliency, managing and treating officers, as well as making positive choices about diet, nutrition and exercise.

Police officers have a wide variety of tasks and duties, which of course can include responding to extreme incidents. So it’s no surprise that these extreme incidents and on-the-job trauma can contribute to higher rates of PTSD, depression and mental illness among officers. In fact, some mental health challenges are more prevalent among the law enforcement population (Statistics are underreported for police):

  • PTSD: 35% for police officers vs 6.8% in general population
  • Depression: 9% – 31% vs 6.7% in general population
  • Suicidal thoughts: 7% of officers have persistent thoughts of suicide

Other associations, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Police Executive Research Form (PERF), have symposiums, toolkits and webinars dedicated to supporting the mental wellness of police officers.

Use-of-force data is critical.

Also a prominent topic at MSPCE was the FBI’s launch of its National Use-of-Force Data Collection. According to their official press release, the database is “in an effort to promote more informed conversations regarding law enforcement use of force in the United States.”Use-of-Force Data

This initiative, which has been discussed at many conferences and meetings this year, has prompted agencies to look at how they document incidents, collect and organize information, review use-of-force reports, and access related data and analytics. By utilizing use-of-force data and analytics, agencies have the opportunity to notice any positive or negative trends, which can create a pathway for agencies to recognize and help their officers accordingly.

What to do next.

These are just three of the key takeaways from this year’s MSPCE, but there is so much more to be discussed. Join us in keeping the conversation going by visiting us at the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as at the IACP Annual Conference (Booth #4839) in Chicago in October. Benchmark Analytics will be demoing its Officer Management and Early Intervention platforms, as well as providing insight and informational sessions on officer wellness, 21st century policing and other critical topics in law enforcement today.

Sir Robert Peel, the so-called father of modern policing, was early to identify that public trust would be essential to his vision’s success. Both before and after Peel, political theorists have written piles of books and papers on the relationship between people with authority and the people willingly subject to it.

John Locke talked about this relationship using the concept “consent of the governed”, specifically, “no one can be…subjected to the political power of another without his own consent.” His was a revolutionary way of understanding how a free public actually helps to determine the reach and nature of those in authority. Ultimately, theorists and practitioners alike landed on legitimacy as the term of art.

Police legitimacy is the term used when describing whether or not an agency has the trust of its community. Legitimacy is a scalable concept that, depending on the person, can be used to refer to an individual officer or the entire policing profession.

Technology hasn’t been obviously useful in addressing the scenarios and outcomes that affect police legitimacy until recently.  By making it easier to be transparent, tools like body-worn cameras, enterprise-grade police force management software, and early intervention systems have added a new layer to police legitimacy.

Foundations of Police Legitimacy

foundations-of-police-technologyLegitimacy is maintained when the group deciding and enforcing the rules plays by them as well. They must be impartial and objective in upholding the law. If the rule-bound population detects special treatment or bias, especially the self-serving kind, its attitude changes from acceptance to resistance, resentment, and, occasionally, revolution. (Here’s looking at you, King G.)  Peel’s  nine principles of policing is a prescient work that demonstrates the fundamental link between successful policing and police legitimacy.

A Social Institution

Researchers approach police legitimacy as a “riverhead” of social psychology and institutional theory.

Social psychology helps researchers understand how the formation of a person’s perception or outlook might influence their behavior during an encounter with police.

social-institution-normative-empirical-legitimacyPaired with institutional theory, which defines legitimacy as “a generalized perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions.”

When legitimacy exists, an institution gets the benefit of the doubt. Remove legitimacy, and that support begins to erode. For police, legitimacy is the difference between compliance and non-compliance, respect and ridicule, support and criticism; the consequences are serious when an agency lacks the support of its community.

Normative and Empirical Legitimacy

Multiple types of legitimacy can exist at the same time. This fact complicates any understanding of police legitimacy, as an agency could be “normatively” legitimate without “empirical” legitimacy.

Researchers distinguish these two forms of legitimacy by their respective source; i.e., whether we’re considering an an agency through the eyes of the government or the public.

Normative legitimacy exists when an agency satisfies an objective criterion determined by an organization higher up the authority food chain.  If an agency lacks any obvious signs of corruption, then they satisfy one condition of normative legitimacy.

The presence of empirical legitimacy, however, depends on the perceptions of citizens.  As you might have guessed, perception is subjective, which means your community might view your agency as illegitimate even if you qualify by normative standards, i.e., a lack of obvious corruption.

Technologies to Improve Community Perception

Just as technology makes it easier for law enforcement to connect with communities, and by extension to better gauge and positively influence empirical legitimacy, it also helps leadership more easily access information they can use to support officers.

Body-Worn Cameras

police-officerThese devices serve a dual purpose: collecting evidence and increasing transparency between law enforcement agencies and their communities. By capturing video of arrests and other interactions, both leadership and civilians can literally see how officers conduct themselves. These devices are impartial by nature – a camera on its own can’t operate with bias towards officers or civilians. BWC’s help move a subjective experience into the realm of objective by opening a contested incident to the oversight of many, diverse reviews.

Early Warning and Intervention Systems

According to CALEA, “the failure of [an] agency to develop a comprehensive [EIS] system can lead to the erosion of public confidence in the agency’s ability to investigate itself, while putting the public and employees in greater risk of danger.”

EIS’s have existed since the 70s. These early solutions existed in agency-specific data silos, though the focus even then was on community perception and uses of force. Having an EIS in place lends itself to both normative and empirical legitimacy. Normative in that it signals your agency is actively monitoring itself, and empirical in that it publicly demonstrates consideration of the public’s experience with your officers.

Recently, advances in data science have allowed agencies to implement research-driven solutions that promote an evidence-based approach to how we configure technology to alert us to officers in need of support, as well as the intervention chosen to help that officer. Agencies can use advanced technologies like machine learning to prevent officers from having an adverse event that could diminish empirical legitimacy and ruin an officer’s career.