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.