In recent weeks, conversations on law enforcement accreditation have increased among municipal and state law enforcement leaders. For example, Massachusetts is promoting a bill that develops a Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee that will create unified requirements on officer certification and misconduct. In Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine is encouraging more agencies to pursue law enforcement accreditation, and in Virginia, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police outlined positive reforms for police departments which includes Virginia agencies to achieve either state or national accreditation.

But what is law enforcement accreditation?
In our post, Accreditation 101: The Benefits of State and National Police Accreditation, we shared that law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process and is based on standards which are reflective of best practices in law enforcement.

Agencies can become nationally accredited through The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc (CALEA), or receive accreditation through a state program. Whether an agency becomes accredited through CALEA or a state program, the accreditation process requires an in-depth review of an agency’s organization, management, operations and administration – often known as standards.

What are accreditation standards?
Accreditation standards increase an agency’s credibility and provide performance norms against agency processes and procedures.  These standards cover roles and responsibilities; relationships with other agencies; organization, management and administration; law enforcement operations, operational support and traffic law enforcement; detainee and court-related services; and auxiliary and technical services.

What is an early intervention system’s role in law enforcement accreditation?
CALEA Standards Chapter 35 emphasizes that a law enforcement agency must be able to depend on the satisfactory work performance of each employee, and this includes having a standardized performance evaluation as well as a personnel early intervention system.

EIS Research

CALEA Standard 31.1.9 specifically states “If an agency has an EIS, a written directive establishes a Personnel Early Intervention System to identify agency employees who may require agency intervention efforts. The directive shall include: a. definitions of employee behaviors or actions to be included for review; b. threshold or trigger levels to initiate a review of employee actions or behavior; c. a review of identified employees, based on current patterns of collected material, that is approved by the agency CEO or designee; d. agency reporting requirements of conduct and behavior; e. documented annual evaluation of the system; f. the responsibility of supervisors; g. remedial action; and h. some type of employee assistance such as a formal employee assistance Program, peer counseling, etc.”

Additionally, as part of CALEA’s standard on EIS, the National Police Foundation shares that “the failure of the agency to develop a comprehensive system can lead to the erosion of public confidence in the agency’s ability to investigate itself, while putting the public and agency employees in greater risk of danger.”

State accreditation programs design standards that capture both CALEA-recognized and state-specific best practices for law enforcement agencies. For example, The Arizona Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ALEAP) Chapter 16 contains standards on performance evaluations and includes standards on annual performance evaluations, as well as probationary employees. The Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ILEAP) has two accreditation tiers for departments, but both contain standards regarding officer performance. Therefore, whether a department is seeking national or state accreditation, it is important for agencies to have an EIS in place that provides a framework for establishing review processes, as well as delivers accurate officer data, in order to meet performance accreditation standards.

What early intervention system (EIS) is required to meet accreditation standards?
Not all EIS are the same.

Early Intervention SystemFor example, threshold-based EIS systems rely on basic activity thresholds, so that when an officer reaches an arbitrary threshold, the officer is flagged for an investigation. The problem with these types of systems is that they aren’t reliable for identifying a real problem that requires intervention; in fact, based on academic research, threshold-based systems result in:

As a result, a threshold system does not necessarily help agencies accurately review officer performance, in order to meet accreditation standards, and provide them the intervention and training plans when needed. Instead, a data-driven early intervention system, like First Sign® Early Intervention, analyzes cumulative officer data on an ongoing basis and allows supervisors to review and compare data for individual officers, units and even watches. This allows supervisors to make recommendations for exceptional performance deserving of recognition or assign intervention actions for concerning behavior.

Research shows there are over 25 indicators that impact an officer’s performance, and fall in four conceptual groups: Event, Organization, Officer, and External/Wellness. As an example, Event information includes: missed court appearances; officer-involved injuries; commendations received; officer training; and community engagement work. Agencies using First Sign work with Benchmark’s data science team to conduct a detailed data exercise which allows each agency to identify the most valuable, accessible, and relevant indicators for their department. Each indicator is then broken into subdomains and analyzed.

The result is having a data-driven EIS in place that serves as a predictive model that identifies patterns of problematic behavior and patterns of exceptional conduct — thus, providing the information agencies need to successfully meet officer performance accreditation standards.

What are next steps?
To learn more about the importance of a data-driven early intervention system, watch our presentation from the 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference on “What Every Police Chief Needs to Understand about Early Intervention/Warning Systems.”

To learn more about First Sign from a Benchmark representative, fill out the form here.

Note: The following article is reprinted by permission of POLITICO LLC, and originally appeared on June 2, 2020.

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I Was the Mayor of Minneapolis and I Know Our Cops Have a Problem

Racism permeated the culture of the department. But there are ways to change that culture that other cities can copy.

By R.T. Rybak

The searing images from the past several nights of anger and violence in dozens of cities across the country have shocked and horrified the nation. But there is one image that we need to keep fixed in our minds, the one that started it all:

A human being, staring calmly off into the middle distance, while his knee slowly suffocates another human being.

Our repulsion should boil over as we realize that the white police officer, who took an oath to protect and serve that person on the ground, who is black, would not have acted so brutally if the man he was restraining were white. Until every one of us can see that image for what it is—an example of a two-tiered justice system that treats black and white people differently—we cannot move another inch forward. We need to acknowledge that on some level, every one of us had a role in keeping this inequity in place.

I’ll go first, because after living in Minneapolis all my life, covering the Minneapolis Police Department as a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter and, more directly, serving 12 years as mayor of this city, I should.

My own efforts to change a police department and its culture failed badly. That starts with appointing three different police chiefs who all made change but not enough. It includes attempts to diversify the force, to change practices in mental health and numerous efforts to work with individual officers on softening their approach so they could empathize more deeply with community. These failures will haunt me for the rest of my life, and it should. As each of us sees and acknowledges our own part it can be paralyzing. It was for me.

But I was heartened by something a colleague at the Minneapolis Foundation said to me the other day. Chanda Smith Baker grew up and raised a family as an African American in north Minneapolis, and for years has lead the Pillsbury United Communities. She has seen so many more of the consequences of our deep, endemic racism than I ever will. But as we surveyed the damage and pain in our community she said simply: “We have no choice but to act.”

So we are acting. Our foundation, which has been centered on racial equity for decades, is granting $1 million in the next few weeks to community-based solutions that strive for justice and healing in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody. Knowing we need to have tough conversations about race and culture, we launched our “Conversations with Chanda” podcast that will give our community, which has avoided those tough conversations for too long, the space to “go there.”

Like everyone in this city, we know that is still not enough. A very well-intentioned friend asked me what one thing he could do to make this situation better. I had to say, “There’s no one thing.” You can’t fully stop racism in policing without understanding the racism in the laws we ask our police to enforce, the racism in a criminal justice system that over-incarcerates black men, the racism in how we white Americans perceive a threat when we see someone who is black. An unjust economic system matters, and so does the issue where I focus most these days: the intolerable racial inequities in education. So does the classism that allows so many of us with privilege to have someone else’s child put on a police uniform and walk into tough situations so we can safely, mindlessly go about our lives.

But, right now, nothing matters more in Minneapolis than reforming the city’s police. An obvious first step would be to demilitarize the department. As a mayor who took office right after 9/11, I quickly saw that the community-based preventive programs like Bill Clinton’s “cops on the streets” initiative lost funding while we seemingly had a blank check for equipment and weapon systems that too often have the officers we want to “protect and serve” separated from their communities by shields and armored turtle suits.

Fortunately, we don’t need to invent a solution from scratch. We already have the Obama administration’s “21st Century Policing Plan,” which lays out in detail how our country’s police departments can be rebuilt around six pillars: building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, training and education and officer safety and wellness.

One of the most important values I took from that plan is something I learned on a deeply personal level as a mayor: Police officers are human beings. We then train them, put them with others we have trained into cultures that develop around the job and expect them to perform in the most high-stress situations imaginable.

We also know a lot about what makes that human being performing as a police officer thrive in the job or become a headline from a searing incident we could have prevented. The Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago has studied officer conduct over time in major departments and analyzed what actions signal when behavior starts to go off track. This helps us act more quickly when we need to intervene so that officers can be retrained or treated, and get back on track.

When I first saw this research, I realized that if, as mayor, the police chief and I, and the department’s supervisors, had known early when our officers needed our help and attention, we could have saved tens of millions in settlements costs and scores of lives. The problem was we never had the technology or tools to connect in real time what was happening with each officer and we didn’t have access to what we now know about how to step in.

That’s why I joined the founding board of Benchmark Analytics, which is now using that work in 60 cities and the state of New Jersey to connect department internal personnel systems to that deep research so mayors and chiefs can do what I never could to prevent the next tragic incident.

There are many more specific actions that can be taken but above all we need to address police culture. I have never been a police officer, so my experience is limited to what I have seen as a reporter and mayor. But I have come to know so many officers and continue to struggle with how I can know so many truly committed people whose collective actions I don’t recognize. In my city, at least, we have a majority of officers who let a minority of officers create an us-vs.-them culture that over time dehumanizes the people and neighborhoods the officers are supposed to protect and serve. Throw race into this toxic mix and you end up with behavior that often has to be named for what it is: racism. It plays itself out when a knee stays on the neck of a human being treated like he’s not human.

Much has been written by people who know more than I about police culture, but I do know it can be reformed only from within. That means the majority of officers need to rise up and take control of their culture. To the many good officers I know exist, I say this: I know the consequences of being shunned by your co-workers, but I also know you know in your heart that George Floyd should not be dead. Your silence is deafening and this city, and this country, cannot move forward until we hear your voices.

There is good news. We have stood at this place before, in Minneapolis and across the country. Yes, this might seem like the beginning of a familiar and dispiriting cycle: a terrible incident, a few days of promises and then, as the attention fades, so does the hope of change. But I also know that this is not a predestined conclusion. Change is possible. I know because I have seen it before in this very city.

Forty-one years ago, I was a young crime reporter. Night after night, I covered a police department that had deep issues of trust with two communities: residents who were black, and residents who were gay.

All these years later, one of those groups has seen enormous change. The Minneapolis police, which back then routinely beat and humiliated gay residents, is now one of the most gay-friendly departments in the country with openly gay officers serving in every part of the force, including at one point, the role of chief. There was no one action that made that possible, instead, in thousands of interactions, that wall creating an us vs. them turned into a we because each group recognized we are human beings on the other side.

The fact that we have seen so much progress with gay residents and almost none with black residents says a lot about the perniciousness of racism. We need to own that. But it does also say that change is possible, and now we have to prove that is true.

Copyright 2016 POLITICO LLC.

The first documented use of data and analysis in American policing was in 1906 by August Vollmer in Berkeley, California. Vollmer organized patrol beats based on reviewing police reports and pin-mapping crimes.
(Source: Increasing Analytic Capacity of State and Law Enforcement Agencies: Moving Beyond Data Analysis to Create a Vision for Change by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Law Enforcement Forecasting Group).

Data in Policing

Data and analysis have now been part of American policing for more than a century – evolving from Vollmer’s pin-mapping to comparative data tables; from simple patterns analysis and batch processing on mainframe computers to user interface with real-time analysis; and eventually to more flexible and sophisticated analysis.

From Undefined to Predictive
Considering the growth of information today, as well as expansion of technology solutions, it is critical for public safety agencies to understand their organization’s data. However, data and analysis vary from agency to agency, and this can best be described in the five stages of transformative management for law enforcement.

Transformative Management is how agencies oversee processes and data related to police force management, to improve the effectiveness of both their civilian and sworn personnel. The stages start at Undefined and move along a pathway  to Manual, Digital, Analytic and Predictive. At the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 2019 Annual Conference, Nick Montgomery, Chief Research Officer at Benchmark Analytics, shared with attendees what each stage meant:

  • Undefined: An agency is at the Undefined stage when they have not begun implementing data-collection systems and have no operational initiatives to utilize data in decision-making.IACP 2019 Presentation
  • Manual: An agency is at the Manual stage when they have defined processes — though the processes are often managed by manually logging data into spreadsheets and using rudimentary analysis.
  • Digital: At the Digital stage, agencies start automating manual processes and source programs to develop data management workflows.
  • Analytic: In order to analyze data, agencies need to be able to “read” it. At the Analytic stage, an agency has the data and is beginning to understand what it means.
  • Predictive: Law enforcement agencies can benefit from developing an analytic capacity, and this is demonstrated in the Predictive stage. The Predictive stage is when agencies use the data, reports, and analytics to make meaningful decisions – optimizing the outcomes they aim to achieve through transformation.

Montgomery also shared that agencies often achieve these stages in two milestones. The first milestone is Undefined to Digital. The second milestone is Digital to Predictive.

In the first milestone, agencies reach the Digital stage and have automated manual processes, as well as start to bring in data. However, agencies may not know how to utilize the data yet. In the second milestone, agencies reach the Predictive stage because they engage in multiple data sources, as well as use robust reporting tools, to hone in on the data that matters most— in order to better serve their personnel and surrounding community.

Reaching the Predictive Stage
Agencies should incorporate technology solutions that can help them reach the Predictive stage in transformative management, such as:

  • Early Intervention Systems (EIS)
    EIS platforms are used by many agencies — but most are trigger-based systems that regularly produce inaccuracies. In Montgomery’s IACP presentation, he shared that trigger-based Early Intervention systems typically flag the wrong officers and can produce a high rate of false negatives and false positives in a department.

    A research based EIS utilizes machine learning, has the ability to learn patterns in data as well as to use those patterns to make predictions. As a result, agencies significantly reduce the number of incorrect flags and, instead, can take a proactive and preventative approach when identifying officers that may require additional training, counseling or intervention.

    Learn more about how Early Intervention Systems have evolved, as well as view the full IACP presentation here.

  • Personnel Management Software
    Personnel management software, like the Benchmark Management System®, is designed to capture all day-to-day operational information in one location. It also provides agencies an all-encompassing, fully automated management tool – essential for capturing critical data, as well as departmental reports and forms. For example, BMS provides custom Exposure Forms, used to monitor all interactions related to coronavirus – to help identify trends, facilitate proactive intervention and help keep law enforcement agencies safe.

    The BMS reporting dashboard also provides agencies with a fully-automated administrative backbone – acting as a workforce multiplier to help your agency do more with less.

  • Training Management System (TMS)
    It is critical for agencies to have the tools to deliver up-to-date training organization-wide, especially during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. A TMS allows departments to train virtually, track completion and send updates in a way that best prepares officers to serve successfully and safely. Additionally, a TMS tracks training activities crucial for managing certifications to meet mandatory compliance.

    Learn about how a TMS can help your agency in our post: The Benefits of a Learning Management System for Today’s Public-Sector Organizations.

If you would like to know more about what Benchmark can do to help your agency reach the Predictive stage, visit us at Ready to do more with your data?

You’re no doubt familiar with Early Intervention Systems (EIS) used by law enforcement agencies to identify off-track behavior in officers. However, in recent years, agencies have sought a more proactive and preventative solution that can identify officers before they’re involved in a career-damaging adverse incident.

They’ve found that little has changed in traditional EIS platforms since the initial days of trigger-based systems. How they look has barely kept up with other technology, and the way they work hasn’t been updated since the 70’s.

The emergence of modern problems leads many agencies to reevaluate their current EIS and consider investing in a modern one.

Old technology and new technology

Non-Disciplinary by Design

Far from being a means to discipline, EIS platforms were intended to be non-disciplinary by design. However, using triggers to identify officers in need of additional support has since been found to create situations where EIS platforms are used as hindsight-driven, punitive tools, if they’re used at all.

Unlike classic EIS platforms, a modern EIS is configured to capture and analyze indicators beyond the simple mechanism of triggers and thresholds. This enables them to provide insight that can be used to address an officer before they have an incident that could require disciplinary action. It also provides a greater depth of insight into an agency’s overall health, including officers deserving of recognition, and individuals who have been exposed to a critical number of stressful events.

An EIS is intended to be an objective, smart, and automated mechanism that supports the health, safety and efficacy of your officers. Still, the idea of trusting an algorithm to interpret officer data can be off-putting to those who prefer a human touch. However, a truly modern EIS blends seamlessly with your department, informing and amplifying the impact of your frontline supervisors rather than replacing them.

Similar to the communication and tactical improvement brought about by two-way radios, an EIS extends your supervising staff’s ability to respond to officers in need of support. Furthermore, in recent years agencies have been using EIS to identify officers worthy of recognition for exceptional service.

How Do Early Intervention Systems Work?

Initially, EIS platforms were called “Early Warning” systems. While “Intervention” and “Warning” are sometimes used interchangeably, the latter has gradually fallen out of favor. Consider this –a warning will tell supervisors something is wrong, but it won’t tell supervisors how to help the officer who triggered it.

According to the National Police Foundation, using intervention terminology “emphasizes the role of the agency in providing officers with support and resources to address problems at their earliest stage.” Most police executives would agree helping officers is preferable to punishing them.

The important part, regardless of what term you use, is that you are aware an officer is exhibiting behavior pre-determined to be atypical, enabling your supervisory team to take preventative actions that “promote officer safety, health and wellness, and success.”

old typewriter new computer

The first generation of EIS platforms relied heavily on the mechanics of triggers and thresholds. Agencies would select a set of indicators and then define thresholds for each one. For example, if an officer had three use-of-force instances in a single month, that would trigger an alert for a supervisor.

Though innovative at the time, recent advancements in technology allow for the development of sophisticated systems that refine triggers to allow for truly preventative action. A peer-reviewed study from our partners at the University of Chicago identified that most trigger-based systems result in a 78% false positive and 90% false negative rate.

These trigger-based systems can often orient the attention of supervisors in the wrong direction, wasting time and introducing the risk that officers in need of support will slip through the cracks. Beyond that, they often aren’t configured to provide an early enough warning.

Regardless, an EIS is an essential part of any modern agency’s personnel management toolkit for myriad reasons.

For more information about alternatives to a trigger-based approach, such as using analytics to convert data into insights, check out First Sign®.

Why would your agency want an EIS?

In a report on EIS best practices, the National Police Foundation defined one as “a personnel management tool designed to identify potential individual or group concerns at the earliest possible stage so that intervention and support can be offered in an effort to re-direct performance and behaviors toward organizational goals.”

In other words, an EIS can help you know where to focus your management efforts. Most companies and organizations have some type of support system or tool in place to position employees to succeed. Usually this falls under the purview of human resources. Agencies can apply some of these existing principles to how they think about supporting officers. EIS platforms are particularly well-suited to support agencies and their officers in the following ways.

Protect Your Officers (and Their Careers)

Law enforcement officers regularly must adapt to high-stress, complex (often unfamiliar) situations. They’re also expected to thoroughly document these events, including everything from when use of force is required to vehicle pursuits. This makes their profession unusual in that a lot of data is produced but not much is done with it to help personnel.

Early EIS platforms worked off indicators chosen through intuition. While this gets agencies part of the way towards a system that can help prevent officers from drifting into adverse behavior, these indicators alone simply aren’t enough to make sense of all the data generated by today’s LEOs.

A modern EIS allows supervisors and police executives to take truly preventative action, without getting bogged down in false positives and false negatives.

Accreditation Compliance

CALEA offers multiple tiers, but table stakes for accreditation include guidance on EIS usage. According to CALEA standard 35.1.9, agencies with an EIS must also have a “written directive” to provide structure around definitions of behavioral indicators, reviews of identified employees, remedial action, and so on. In CALEA’s own words, “the failure of an agency to develop a comprehensive system can lead to the erosion of public confidence in the agency’s ability to investigate itself, while putting the public and agency employees in greater risk of danger.”

Relationship with Community

A survey of nearly 2,000 residents of U.S. metro areas, “found that 75% of white respondents and 80% of Black and Hispanic respondents favored the use of early warning systems as an accountability mechanism within police agencies.” As communities continue to ask for more transparency and insight into how police agencies identify and address officers whose behavior does not align with their expectations, modern EIS platforms offer a solution that signals an agency is investing in not only the well-being of their officers, but the well-being of the community.

start here

6 Baseline Functions to Look for in an EIS

As you prepare to either reevaluate your existing early intervention system or consider purchasing one for your agency, here are some baseline functions you should seek.

Trigger or Threshold Mechanisms

Though research indicates these mechanisms are no longer enough (and can often mislead supervisors), they still provide some insight into the frequency of certain events. Though you might find yourself

A Research Base

While it’s great to gain insight into your officers, there’s only so much you can do comparing your agency against itself. Implementing an EIS built on top of a longitudinal research base helps you understand your officers in the context of policing across a variety of departments.

21st Century Analytics

Data without analytics isn’t very useful. If your EIS doesn’t come with advanced analytics, your team will be left to crunch the numbers on their own. And at the rate that law enforcement produces data, it’s nearly impossible for an individual to derive any meaningful insight without the help of modern technology.

Situational Evaluation

Your EIS should be able to interpret information based on situational data. This is critical to avoiding false positive and false negatives. If your EIS can’t process data in the context of a situation, the results won’t differentiate between a justifiably active officer and an off-track one.

Temporal Evaluation

When something occurred should also factor into the information you receive from your EIS. Whether a series of events happened during third watch, on the weekend, in the morning, or during a large event should factor into which officers are flagged, if any.

Command Channel Review Support

While all agencies have some review process, our experience has revealed that each one is unique. That’s why it’s key for your EIS to be flexible enough to align with your command channel review.

Choosing an EIS is an important decision for an agency. Consider seeking out a partner who understands the complexities of policing who can also leverage the power of advanced analytics.

People produce a lot of data. How much is a lot of data? Research company IDC, “estimates that by 2025, approximately 80 billion devices will be connected to the internet and the total amount of digital data generated worldwide will hit 180 zettabytes.”

To put that in context, an officer’s body-worn camera produces about 11.6 gigabytes of data every month. A single zettabyte contains a trillion gigabytes.

Folks in the tech space often refer to data as the “new oil.” This might be a nod to the great quantities of data all around us, unseen; or that all of the software and applications we use would be impossible without it. Another way to interpret the analogy is through data’s valuable byproducts (oil’s go into 6,000 items): instead of the rubber for basketballs, data yields insights we can use to make decisions.

With both internal and external factors driving change in police departments, using data to develop a holistic view of your officers will be crucial to your agency addressing its unique challenges.

What Types of Workforce Data Can Police Departments Capture?

There’s no shortage of technology in police departments but most of it is focused on policing and not the police as employees. Software like Computer Aided Dispatch and Records Management Systems make it easier to help the communities they serve. However, they don’t provide insight into your sworn and civilian personnel.

on-duty-officer-dataYou can’t have the benefits of people analytics without having people data to analyze. Through research conducted by the University of Chicago, seven performance areas have emerged that are both rich in data and critical to effective police force management. If you’re interested in using data to innovate your police department, here’s where to start.

Training and Certifications

Beginning with the academy, officers must continually demonstrate and hone their tactical skills. Training is essential to good policing, but it can be hard to understand holistically across an officer’s entire career. Implementing systems to track the training data generated by officers is a good first step to gathering people data.

An Officer’s On-Duty Activity

This area includes the daily on-duty activities that make up an officer’s career; everything from pedestrian and traffic stops to accolades and administrative notices. This type of people data is essential to police leadership. Without it, front-line supervisors could struggle to understand and evaluate officer activity across the department.

Use-of-Force Incidents

Many departments already track use-of-force incidents but do so in a way that makes analysis incredibly difficult, especially when it comes to understanding connections between your officers’ training, your leadership, and the outcomes your officers produce in the field.

Other important areas to begin tracking:

  • Internal Affairs Command Channel Review and Case Management
  • Community Engagement
  • Performance Evaluations
  • Officer Profile – a LEO’s historic and holistic record

How Can You Use People Data?

Essentially, people data, sometimes called workforce data, is any of the information you can capture about your employees. Certifications, absences, complaints, accolades, performance reviews, etc. Tracking these areas across all of your employees yields a mountain of information.

Unless you’re secretly a computer, that massive amount of data won’t yield much, especially if you’re trying to derive insights from years of workforce activity. This gap between data capture and data insight is bridged by analytics, which is the process of running raw people data through software designed to find signals in the noise. These signals are what we refer to as insights, patterns in the data that can be used to make informed predictions about future results.

For example, a company might use people data to measure overall employee sentiment or the internal net-promoter score (i.e., how many people would recommend working there versus not), where before they might have had an outdated spreadsheet and some water-cooler talk to inform its solution to high turnover. People analytics can be used to predict overall productivity or perhaps a surge in turnover; it can also be used to intervene ahead of negative consequences.

Executives view people data as a strategic advantage in an age where high expectations and high employee churn are rules rather than exceptions. Police leadership is facing similar stressors when it comes to recruiting, training, retaining, and developing their officers.

In our next post, we’ll further explore how police leadership can use people data. If you’re wondering whether your agency could benefit from a better understanding of people data, let us know and we’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Have you ever taken a self-assessment exercise? Often times the first thing you’re told is that there are no right or wrong answers – the objective is to become more aware of the totality of characteristics that comprise your identity. Makes sense, right? But unfortunately, that same principle does not apply to organizational self-assessment – there are right answers and there are definitely wrong answers.

Consider, for example, your current police force management provider. Are you getting the most technologically advanced solution possible? It should Tips for Assessing Your Professional Standards and Early Intervention Systemsbe fully automated and configurable to your specific needs. That includes meeting the specific polices of your agency, as well as your collective bargaining agreement. Also, is it scalable to integrate with other systems as needed – and holistic to provide you with the most visibility possible on your officer activity?

And what about your early intervention system? Is it preventative by nature – or does it feel like you’re always playing catch up? The true value of a professional standards solution should be to allow you to get ahead of issues before they become real problems . . . proactive vs. reactive, if you will. That means being able to intervene on off-track behavior before careers are jeopardized and issues are escalated to community and media exposure.

Something else to ask yourself – what role does research and analytics play in your police force management and early intervention systems? We know that across almost all professions and industries, evidence-based research and advanced analytics play a major role in human capital management. The same should be said for law enforcement, where we need the most reliable and actionable information possible to make informed decisions related to both on-track and off-track behavior.

These are just a few examples of things you should be considering, but you get the idea. Self-assessment can be easy when you know the right questions to ask. If you’re not sure, do a little bit of research – the information you need is out there.

You can also click here to take a quick, 6-question online assessment from Benchmark. Or, download the full assessment, compiled from our years of real-world policing experience, best-in-class technology expertise, as well as research and analytics background.

Does your early intervention system allow you to identify potential problems and intervene with customized responses at the very first sign that something could be going wrong? Here are 6 must-haves to look for when evaluating how well your current early warning system is serving you and your department.

1. Research-based

We know that research and analytics play a major role in human capital management across almost all professions and industries. We should be looking outside of law enforcement to inform ourselves on best practices that can be applied to the unique needs and goals of police departments. That means considering an early intervention system that is grounded in research and fueled by an analytics engine.

2. Go beyond simple triggers

If a system is using arbitrary, blanket metrics to indicate when an action is needed, then most likely you’re not getting a true reading or meaningful insight on your officer activity and behavior. Take for example an officer who gets three use-of-force complaints in a 12-month period and then is automatically elevated to an intervention program. Shouldn’t we know the context? Like total number of arrests . . . or the nature of those arrests . . . or historical activity for that officer, to name a few. Look for a solution that provides a window into context, patterns of problematic behavior and officer history.

3. Reduce ‘false positives’

The 6 Must-Haves of an Early Intervention SystemThis goes hand-in-hand with #2. Nothing can be more disheartening than to have an officer who is doing a phenomenally great job incorrectly flagged for off-track behavior. These ‘false positives’ are demoralizing and can be timely and costly by the time you identify and course-correct the flagging. Look for a system that only identifies officers who are truly engaged in a pattern that suggests their behavior might be trending off track, so you can provide them with the support they need to get back on track.

4. Be preventative and proactive

How many times have we heard someone say – or even ourselves have thought – “if only I would have known sooner”? When it comes to off-track behavior, timing is critical . . . and, it goes without saying, the sooner the better to step in and take action. Find a system that identifies and proactively notifies you at the first sign of an officer who is trending off track, and who has a real need for intervention to get back on track. It’s the difference between being preventative vs. reactive.

5. Be compliant

Look for an early intervention system that is configured to protect you from officer misconduct and rising liability costs. Does it comply with the body of standards proposed by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA)? Does it incorporate the best practices and elements of the ethics toolkit developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)? What about the performance guidelines on officer conduct recommended by the Department of Justice (DOJ)? A system that meets all these criteria helps you safeguard against problematic behavior and the staggering price tag of liability settlements.

6. Built to improve accountability

You definitely want a solution that works to the specific operations, needs and goals of your police department. Does it allow supervisors and commanders to review and compare data for individual officers and units – even down to watches? Can you assign intervention actions for problematic behavior in need of correction? What about making recommendations for exceptional performance? Remember, the goal is to enlist a system that helps you improve overall accountability.

Selecting the right early intervention system is so key to the success of your department. Keep this checklist in mind when evaluating your current system and the options available to you.

To learn about First Sign™ Early Intervention, click here.

Thinking of replacing your current early intervention or early warning system — or exploring getting your first one? dominosHere are three essential things to consider as you weigh your options, in support of your professional standards within your agency:

1) Real-world policing experience

Anyone can claim to do anything — and they often do. That’s why when it comes to an early intervention system, you should look for one that’s been built by people who know what it means to walk in your shoes. Were they at one time an officer themselves? Or a member of a command staff? Or perhaps worked in a mayor’s or city manager’s office? Bringing that real-world experience to the table can mean the difference between a limited, ineffective offering to a nuanced solution that’s built specifically for the needs of law enforcement agencies.

2) Best-in-class technology

The greatest software idea can fail miserably before it’s out of the gate if its technological framework doesn’t support your needs. How configurable is it to your department’s requirements, policies and goals? Is it fully automated, simple and secure? Is it built to integrate with your existing systems? How intuitive is it, for user friendliness and ease of use? These are all questions you should seek answers to when searching for a new professional standards early warning system.

3) Research based

Look for a police early intervention system that’s grounded in research. What we know from other professions is that the right data, brought together with the right analyses, intervening with the right support, can make a dramatic difference in how organizations function and operate. The same holds true for law enforcement, where research, data and analytics can drive preventative intervention for trending off-track behavior — before it escalates into a larger, more challenging problem for an officer and your department.

Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for departments across the board. But these are three critical criteria to consider — so that ultimately you and your officers are supported with a system that is easy-to-use, fair and unbiased . . . and one that can navigate the complexities you and your department faces every day.

For more information on First Sign™ Early Intervention, click here.