“Personnel management…is one of the most difficult challenges you face.” – Chuck Ramsey
Over the course of a decades-long career, Chuck Ramsey influenced, defined and communicated police culture at two major agencies. First, as Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, then as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.
When he left his leadership role in Chicago for Philadelphia, he anticipated the two agencies would be mostly similar, though he quickly realized the differences would have a bigger impact on his goals for the agency.
How can a police executive proactively shape police culture?
Leaders are likely to find that the universality of police practices can cut both ways. They should allocate sufficient time to understanding their agency’s culture. This is especially critical in circumstances where you’re coming from outside the agency. Ultimately, any time you want to change how an agency operates, you need to understand the why and how of its current state.
Regardless of its familiarity, if your agency’s culture is divisive or fails to support your intended policies and training – such as an increased focus on officer wellness – it’s not the right one.
Try to see beyond the traditional mindset of policing. Its culture can only change by identifying and recognizing the people who do things the right way while intervening to correct and support those who don’t.
During a recent Q&A with Benchmark’s CEO, Ron Huberman, Chuck shared what he learned about developing cultures of excellence and wellness – as both an insider and an outsider – to help today’s leaders better navigate the changing landscape of policing.
What’s expected of leadership from year to year rarely stays the same. While every new cohort of police executives expects to face new challenges, the complexity of contemporary law enforcement is unprecedented. The extent of which is largely due to the impact of new technology on how people communicate and share experiences. If there’s a negative incident between law enforcement and the community, it’s no longer a local issue, it’s a national one.
“It’s not just worrying if something happened in your department; wherever it happens, it can have an impact on it.”
How one agency operates and responds to community expectations can inform the perception of law enforcement across the country. This can have a negative impact on police legitimacy, which is the metric for how law enforcement is perceived by the community they serve. Less perceived legitimacy translates to less respect for law enforcement, which can undercut community engagement efforts and complicate officer safety.
Watch the full Q&A to hear Chuck Ramsey’s thoughts on:
Managing relationships with your officers and your community
Moving beyond the reliance on legacy candidates in recruiting new officers
The actionable information every chief needs to lead effectively
During his twenty-five-year tenure at LAPD, Dr. Sean Malinowski held a number of challenging roles. At one point, due partly to a background in technology, he served concurrently as Chief of Detectives, Chief Information Officer, ran CompStat, and managed the department’s technology. Dr. Malinowski succeeded by recognizing how each of his roles interacted with the others to drive agency process and outcomes.
What Information Does a Chief Need to Run a Modern Police Agency?
High-functioning agencies need to create strategic dashboards to visualize data. Dr. Malinowski thinks of these as windows into the data, and the shape and scope is highly subjective, likely dependent on the preferences and needs of an agency’s executives.
For the LAPD, specifically then-chief Charlie Beck, Dr. Malinowski bucketed data in three windows. The first contained crime data, the second tracked public sentiment, and the third window provided insight into how the agency was doing on risk management – tracking use-of-force incidents and vehicular pursuits, for example.
But data tracking, particularly when in service to prediction, can cause friction between an agency and its community. However, according to Dr. Malinowski, this is largely due to a disconnect around intentions. As he sees it, the data isn’t used to arrest someone before they commit a crime just because an algorithm says they are likely to – but used as an indicator that empowers an agency to take preventative steps. To stop the crime from happening without having to arrest anyone.
This is similar to how Benchmark developed First Sign, our research-based Early Intervention System. We use the power of advanced analytics to help agencies intervene with an officer before off-track behavior results in an adverse incident.
Watch the Q&A below to hear how Dr. Malinowski implemented one of the first Early Warning Systems for the LAPD.
Every use-of-force incident has the potential to undermine community trust, expose officers to liability and create an operational, financial or reputation risk to the agency. With a newly state-mandated emphasis on de-escalation and alternatives to force, law enforcement agency leaders will be responsible for carefully reviewing their policies, training their officers and assuring a robust internal review process is in place.
In 2018, 677 civilians in California were involved in officer use-of-force incidents that resulted in death or serious bodily injury – or an officer discharging his or her firearm. Those incidents resulted in 146 civilian deaths1 – a decrease from the 741 civilians involved in serious force incidents in 2017 that resulted in 172 deaths2.
The primary reason described by officers – both in 2017 and 2018 – for using serious or deadly force, was to effect an arrest or to take a civilian into custody. In 40 incidents in 2018 and 22 incidents in 2017, an officer used serious force to prevent an escape. With the enactment of AB 392, new restrictions on using deadly force during an attempted escape mean there will be more scrutiny than ever before3.
The message sent by the Legislature was clear when it recently enacted bill AB 392: “[I]t is the intent … that peace officers use deadly force only when necessary in defense of human life.” AB 392 requires officers only respond with deadly force when a threat of death or serious bodily injury is “imminent,” meaning the assailant has “the present, opportunity, and apparent intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury” to the officer or another person. Officers are also required to use available resources and techniques other than deadly force If “reasonably safe and feasible to an objectively reasonable officer.”
SB 230, as one police chief said, is equally – if not more so – important as AB 392, the landmark bill recently signed by Governor Newsom that rewrote California’s deadly force standard.
Until AB 392, California’s use-of-force standard had not been amended since it was enacted in 1872. Understandably, department leaders have expressed concern about the demands new reforms will place on their agencies by the new reforms. Chiefs and Sheriffs understand change is necessary, but they also know they will be under intense pressure to make sure the requirements of AB 392 are effectively implemented.
This is where SB 230 comes in. Initially, it was meant as an alternative to AB 392. Over the last several months though, lawmakers transformed it into a powerful set of policy and training requirements agency leaders will need to thoroughly understand and implement. This transformation will benefit their officers as well as the communities they serve.
Another law enforcement veteran called SB 230, “absolutely critical,” if California’s leadership wants to see meaningful and lasting change in the application of the use of force.
Once it takes effect, SB 230 will require law enforcement agencies enact a full set of use-of-force policies that will stretch from training . . . to the actual use of force . . . to its immediate aftermath and beyond. Those policies need to be in place by January 1, 2021, meaning the 500-plus agencies in California will need to train nearly 80,000 peace officers in a little over a year.
Agencies will have to enact and maintain policies covering the following topics involving use-of-force incidents:
Vulnerable persons (pregnant women, children, the elderly and the disabled)
Tactics, such as using time and distance
Deadly force guidelines
Alternatives to force
Approved methods and devices
Fair and unbiased policing
Guidelines for drawing or pointing a firearm
Shooting at or from moving vehicles
Consideration of surroundings and bystanders
Intervening when observing force clearly beyond which is necessary
Agencies will also have to enact policies for actions taken in the immediate aftermath of the force incident, including:
Providing, if properly trained, or promptly procuring medical aid
Prompt internal reporting and notification
Reporting the witnessing of potential excessive force
Chiefs and Sheriffs will also have to put policies in place regarding supervision, accountability and transparency, including:
Supervisors’ roles in reviewing uses of force
Factors for evaluating and reviewing use-of-force incidents
Procedures for the filing, investigation and reporting of force complaints
Procedures for complying with Penal Code § 832.7 (public disclosure of records)
Procedures for complying with Government Code § 12525.2 (reporting of serious force to the State Attorney General)
Of course, policy without training is meaningless, and each of the described requirements will demand training of your peace officers. SB 230 specifically requires:
Training standards and requirements relating to knowledge and understanding of use-of-force policies
Training for situations involving vulnerable persons, including those with physical, mental or developmental disabilities
Minimum training and course titles required to meet force policy objectives
State legislation has now fully entered areas that were until recently the domain of department policy. SB 230 states “in all circumstances, officers are expected to exercise sound judgment and critical decision-making when using force options.” This is not an expectation without teeth, as the very next subparagraph allows for the introduction of an agency’s policies and training as evidence in proceedings for consideration of the totality of circumstances of the involved officer. In other words, your agency’s policies and training regime are going be part of the record in administrative, civil and criminal matters.
Those are not the only challenges chiefs and sheriffs will have to consider. With the new legislation, peace officers will believe they are at greater risk for being held criminally and civilly liable, community expectations will increase, there will be more news media scrutiny into whether your department is complying, and there will be more operational and reputation risks for agencies than ever before.
Designing and enacting the appropriate policies and then training all officers or deputies will require a significant organizational effort. With the right tools in place, though, not only will the coming transformation be manageable, they will bring about lasting change.
The coming challenge will be an opportunity to rethink how your agency does a lot of its work. You will be able to ask questions you often do not have the time to get to.
7 Key Steps for Successful Implementation
There are several important measures department leaders will need to take for a successful transition into the new use of force environment.
1. Have the right policies and procedures in place.
Your policies will need to comply with new state laws as well as local rules and collective bargaining agreement provisions.
2. Assure everyone is thoroughly trained
The learning and training mandates of SB 230 are vast, and departments will be under pressure to complete the training by January 1, 2021. This will require extensive tracking as new courses are brought online and rolled out to sworn staff. In providing human capital solutions to the law enforcement community, Benchmark Analytics® has developed a learning management system (LMS) that meets the unique needs of public safety. The LMS includes the capability for managing certifications and has a specific configuration incorporating California POST requirements. Benchmark will further customize its LMS solution for a partner department’s unique training and course titles.
3. Carefully monitor and evaluate each use-of-force incident
AB 392 amends Section 835a of the Penal Code to state “the decision by a peace officer to use force shall be evaluated carefully and thoroughly, in a manner that reflects the gravity of that authority and the serious consequences of the use of force by peace officers.” The Benchmark Management System® (BMS) delivers a complete police force management system with which to carry out a thorough investigation of serious use-of-force incidents and complaints, including evidence management and command-channel review. BMS is built to be configured to specific agency needs like those emerging in California. For example, BMS can easily help your agency comply with the strict timing requirements of the Peace Officer Bill of Rights so critical deadlines are never missed. Benchmark also has the added capability to automatically notify your records or discovery unit so your agency can stay in compliance with the Public Records Act and the recent significant opening of records under Penal Code section 832.7.
4. Collect the information you need to carry out your mandate
The Benchmark Management System includes a use-of-force module that can be readily configured to streamline your agency’s compliance with California’s requirements. This puts a platform at your agency’s fingertips that allows for thorough documentation and capture of data, such as officer and civilian information, geographic and lighting characteristics, the sequence and types of weapons used, and injuries sustained. In Benchmark, users can easily indicate whether a force incident falls within the California Code definition of “serious” force. Workflows can be developed to automatically notify your internal affairs team and activate timers to track video recording release schedules, helping your agency stay in compliance with Government Code section 6254. Additionally, Benchmark automatically flags the appropriate data fields for later export to the California Department of Justice URSUS use of force reporting platform.
5. Develop a thorough understanding by measuring and analyzing what you collect
In a changing landscape, “[police] forces must put analysis at the heart of their decision-making processes.”4 BMS is designed to give agency executives and supervisors the tools they need to review data, analyses and progress or designated periods of time . . . from a week or several months, to a year or more. Moreover, with its built-in analytics and machine learning capabilities, BMS gets smarter over time so you can uncover new insights with which to raise your department’s performance to a higher level.
6. Learn who is exceeding expectations and who is getting off track
Not knowing is not a management practice. You end up just hoping you can make it through the next watch without an event occurring that will endanger your officers, or the public, or put your agency’s reputation at risk by undermining community trust. A sophisticated early intervention system ought to be preventative by design so officers can, in fact, get the additional support they need as soon as possible. First Sign® Early Intervention is a first-of-its-kind research-based early intervention system that incorporates officer history, context of assignment and patterns of problematic behavior instead of relying on simplistic threshold-based systems.
7. Act on what you learn
Identifying an officer who is at risk of engaging in adverse behavior is just the first step. Next, a department has to develop effective interventions and provide the additional support to get the officers who need it, back on track. To address this critical need, Benchmark has developed a proactive intervention support platform called the Case Action Response Engine® or C.A.R.E. With C.A.R.E., you have access to proven best practices, demonstrated to be most effective at moving employee behavior in the right direction with non-punitive interventions. You can facilitate the intervention planning process with templates of actionable steps, goal-setting and follow-up actions, and also provide your supervisors with the capability to provide meaningful progress reports.
The last several years have presented many new challenges to policing. With those challenges comes the opportunity to develop and publish new policies, train your sworn staff and put in place robust review and reporting tools.
If you would like to know more about what Benchmark can do, click the button below to request a demo of our technology or a consultation with me to develop a plan to help your agency navigate the new use-of-force landscape in California.
1Use of Force Incident Reporting, 2018, California Department of Justice.
2Use of Force Incident Reporting, 2017, California Department of Justice.
3 Section 196 of the Penal Code is amended to say that “a peace officer is justified in using deadly force. . . to apprehend a fleeing person for any felony that threatened or resulted in death or serious bodily injury, if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or serious bodily injury to another unless immediately apprehended.”
4Policing – a vision for 2025, McKinsey & Company, January 2017, at p. 12.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
Law enforcement generates extraordinary amounts of data. Every call and dispatch, every arrest, and most interactions with civilians create data an agency can use for analysis. Historically, the practical application of this information has been limited to crime analysis and prevention (e.g., hot-spot policing), but the increasing availability of data and analytics makes it possible for agencies to apply similar strategies to technology-driven personnel management.
Law Enforcement’s Data Ecosystem
Much of an agency’s data is captured through deeply integrated platforms such as Computer-Aided-Dispatch (CAD) and Records Management Systems (RMS). The emergence of CAD and RMS allows police leadership to streamline everyday operations while tracking patterns in historical data to develop sophisticated proactive strategies for crime prevention.
As agencies continue to upgrade to digital systems – including the deployment of equipment like body-worn cameras, dashcams, and V2X telemetry – it becomes easier to derive insights from officer activity. New technologies overlay existing systems to create a digital ecosystem that produces an increasing volume and quantity of data. This growth makes analysis more important, more complicated, and much harder to do well. However, it also creates an opportunity to do more with agency data.
For example, an agency could expand the focus of its data analysis beyond a criminal lens to include performance management of its officers. A recent article by Michael Armstrong, Bill Bratton and Sean Malinowski:
Performance Management has been described as an ongoing process to establish and maintain a high performance culture, focused on aligning individual objectives with the overall goals of the organization. Performance Management is characterized by inclusion and agreement on goal setting, establishing standards of measurement and immediate and ongoing collaboration and feedback. (Armstrong, M. (2006). Performance Management. London: Kogan Page)
In other words, performance management is effectively working with your officers, leveraging strengths and managing weaknesses to improve the overall outcomes of your agency’s police work. This begins with identifying what data to capture, how to effectively do so, and what the data you collect actually means. Most departments have an abundance of officer data but very few have managers trained to conduct meaningful data analysis.
In a previous blog, we connected this analysis of data to agency transformation (see the 5 Stages of Transformative Management for Law Enforcement). We mapped a typical agency’s journey from an undefined process to a transformative one and the distinct stages in between (including analytic). Well-documented processes with automated data collection get agencies pretty far along the path – without this data, you’d have nothing to analyze – though it takes more than just data to transform an agency. Each data point is like a rain drop. When you have a documentation process in place, you can get to the point where you know it’s raining and intuit how much rain is falling. It is Analytics that provides you with the information to decide whether or not you need an umbrella.
Using Analytics to Generate Actionable Insight
In this context, analytics refers to both the approaches and the software that can process massive amounts of varying data types within set parameters (provided by a user) to uncover patterns – achieving a level of insight that would be prohibitively difficult to do without the assistance of a computer. Law enforcement has used analytics to explore tactics to advance the efficacy of policing. This is only possible because of the data created by officers, both digital and not. At this level, an agency is just asking its officers to do paperwork. Necessary, no doubt, if only to have a chain of documents to audit. But agencies could be using this information to help officers get better at their jobs.
For the individual officer, analytics can guide continuous growth and improvement. How you measure this progress will depend on what standards your agency implements, but generally speaking, observable “growth and improvement” is any behavior that moves an officer up and to the right from whatever baseline expectations you set for them. If data indicates an officer is more likely to use force during third watches, you might consider evaluating them for sleep hygiene or avoid assigning them to third watch. It could be this individual is less likely to de-escalate when their natural sleep patterns are disrupted. Or maybe additional training paired with mindfulness coaching could be part of the solution. Instead of policy-driven management – which operates on whether an officer is following the rules or not – we can use data analysis to understand what behavior, coupled with training, leads to the best overall outcomes for an officer and the community.
This is similar to the type of ongoing growth we expect from other industries. Doctors are evaluated by their outcomes as well as subjective factors like bedside manner and perceived empathy. The same could be said for teachers, who receive regular evaluations from students and have access to myriad professional development opportunities. There is a distinct difference between an average doctor and an exceptional one; a teacher with room for improvement, and one voted Teacher of the Year.
Beyond certification for weapon and tactical systems, officers grow and improve throughout their careers. Officers are continuously refining their approach to interacting with the civilian population and each other. Yet this process of improvement is often independent of explicit agency guidance. Officers grow (or not) on their own, absent the same type of regular feedback and guidance from supervisors typically considered table stakes in other professions.
How can supervisors use data to help officers improve?
We can apply analytics to four areas of law enforcement: understanding what types of people tend to be exceptional police officers; identifying an agency’s best officers to help supervisors develop models for professional development; gauging the impact of trauma exposure on officers; and identifying and addressing behavior patterns that are likely to precede adverse events with civilians.
Policing is a difficult job. Successful officers project empathy and power simultaneously while responding appropriately to rapidly evolving situations. In the same way everyone isn’t built to play professional football or achieve Grandmaster status in chess, not every person is wired to be an officer. In theory, anyone can throw a football well or recognize opportunities on a chessboard – some just come by these skills more naturally.
Over time, we can begin to understand why certain individuals get things wrong and how others can learn from it. The stakes are undoubtedly high: mistakes can put an individual officer at risk as well as members of the community. Yet through the use of data, agencies can provide tailored, outcome-specific feedback to individual officers based on their own unique profile so they can improve.
To get these results, agencies have to familiarize themselves with the limitations of certain types of data processing. It’s a step in the right direction whenever an agency implements a process for objective self-evaluation. However, some methods for using data to manage officers that were once thought to be effective are no longer reliable sources of insight.
Beyond trigger-based personnel management
A primary example of using data more effectively to manage and support officers is the use of early warning systems. Since the 1970’s, agencies implemented early warning systems to flag officers acting outside a predetermined norm. Supervisors configured the system’s “triggers” using a blend of experience and intuition. Research has shown this approach is ineffective: trigger-based systems fail to correctly identify off-track officers. Further, they focus solely on what not to do rather than what officers could be doing to improve.
Data Science empowers us to move beyond these simple mechanics. Instead of intuition, we can use insight generated through rigorous analysis of longitudinal data. This enables an agency to provide tailored management to its officers. This leads to more effective policing and by extension a safer, and engaged, community.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Policing has always asked its officers to make difficult decisions about the nature of law enforcement. But three decades of advancements in police technology introduced a new level of complexity to those choices.
Most police executives rose through the ranks fully expecting – perhaps even motivated – to tackle systemic barriers to effective law enforcement. However, few could have anticipated the rapid changes to the public perception of policing’s role in society and the national spotlight that’s been directed at it for most of the 21st century. Law enforcement now requires those in leadership roles to make many of the same technologically complex decisions traditionally reserved for executives in other professions.
Data Centers, cloud technology, cybersecurity, smart cities, chatbots and A.I., virtual reality, IoT, V2X, predictive analytics: a police executive needs to be comfortable with this terminology to make effective decisions about operational and technological investments for their agency.
What Your Officers Think about New Technology
A recent report published by Accenture surveyed hundreds of law enforcement professionals globally to develop a hypothesis for what policing could look like in the future. While the mission hasn’t changed – defined in the report as “protecting the public, preventing crime and keeping the peace, while maintaining the public’s trust” – effective service depends on agencies developing “a more agile workforce and rely[ing] on an increasingly expanded ecosystem of partners.”
Of the officers interviewed, 76% believe the demand for digital skills will increase over the next three to five years. 75% expressed a belief that digital skills will be required and demonstrated an interest in acquiring those skills.
But officers don’t decide what technology they use. That’s up to the supervisors and executives.
Your officers expect their leaders to quickly and accurately assess the implications of new technologies; to understand how and why a technology came to exist, in what ways it’s likely to evolve, and whether your officers will benefit. Additionally, you have to anticipate your community’s perspective as stakeholders impacted by the adoption of new technology.
Sources of Complexity in Law Enforcement
Most readers have more computing power in their pocket or strapped to their wrist than what was available to police through most of the 20th century. It’s relatively easy to point to the upside of new technology, but that upside is often accompanied by higher expectations and increasing operational complexity.
According to some researchers, complexity is introduced to policing via six channels. In recent decades, each has gone undergone a rapid evolution, at times through an expanded mission scope or bringing new stakeholders to the law enforcement table.
When the average person thinks of police work, they possibly think of deterring petty crime like theft and tagging or solving crimes like homicides and burglary. But the scope has expanded greatly in the 21st century. Now police are asked to account for terrorism, immigration issues, cybercrime, and escalated narcotics work involving deadly opioids.
Instead of reactive deterrence, police are expected to proactively deter crime. This means using tools and methodologies to anticipate crime before it happens and introduce a police presence into the area where it’s projected to occur. Because environment plays such a fundamental role in proactive policing, officers now have to wrestle with social issues that were previously outside their purview.
We cover this topic in depth here and here. Whereas historically law enforcement took their cues from leadership and occasionally politicians, now there is no shortage of perspectives on how police should operate in the 21st century. Communities increasingly want a seat at the table and a say in how they are policed. Which makes Community Engagement a critical part of any police strategy.
Until recently, police worked by patrolling in squad cars, responding to calls as needed, and investigating reported crimes. That’s a tight loop of accountability and responsibility. However, that’s expanded to include overlapping strategies like Broken windows, Community-oriented policing, Hot-spots policing, and Intelligence-led policing.
Most agencies will find that a blend of these approaches is the best fit for their community and officers. However, each strategy entails new specializations, new ways of thinking, and often new technology.
The duty belt used to hold your baton, handcuffs, a firearm, and two-way radio. Now you’ll find TASERS, Mobile Computer Databases (MCDs), body cameras, and pepper spray. Beyond that, new technology is useful at departmental level as well. Leveraging advancements in overall computing power, agencies are able to take advantage of CCT, automatic license plate readers, and social media to keep communities safe.
New requirements and evolved responsibilities bring new demands on already limited resources. They also require new ways of thinking, and new specialized knowledge (e.g., cybersecurity). At the same time, resources aren’t necessarily growing in turn.
It’s a challenge to identify and evaluate the varied ways in which these channels interact with one another to create additional complexity. While technology might be a source of complexity in some situations, technology can also solve it.
Technology as Source and Solution
This is why your technology decisions are so important. Though it’s been identified as a channel that introduces complexity, Police Technology is a broad category. Its spot on the list is partially due to its categorical breadth compared to the days of the truncheon, whistle and lantern.
However, contemporary police technology extends beyond the tools and techniques you use in the field. While the introduction of body-worn cameras, TASERS, Mobile Computer Databases (MCDs), automated license plate readers (ALPRs) and DNA analysis help police manage crime, on their own, they don’t provide much insight into the overall effectiveness of police.
Useful Guides to Navigate New Terrain
Police technology needs to perform for an agency under volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) conditions. Part of fully using new technology is understanding its why. People go on auto-pilot when it comes to upgrading their phone or acquiring some other shiny tech, but a different mindset is needed for evaluating technology for work.
Luckily, choosing technology for your department is not an exercise requiring you to reinvent the wheel. Organizations like IACP and PERF recognized that police executives needed to develop a shared framework for choosing, implementing, and using technology.
IACP’s Technology Policy Framework (2014)
This framework sets out a set of “universal principles” to “be viewed as a guide in the development of effective policies for technologies.” This is useful for agencies concerned with data security, protecting the privacy of their officers, and conserving ever-tight resources.
From the report:
“Agencies should define the purpose, objectives, and requirements for implementing specific technology, and identify the types of data captured, stored, generated, or otherwise produced.”
“Agencies should articulate in writing, educate personnel regarding, and enforce agency policies and procedures governing adoption, deployment, use, and access to the technology and the data it provides. These policies and procedures should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, and whenever the technology or its use, or use of the data it provides significantly changes.”
The whole framework is worth reviewing whenever you plan to invest in a new technology.
PERF and Lockheed Martin’s Law Enforcement Technology Needs Assessment (2009)
PERF and Lockheed Martin approached the question of police technology from a different perspective. Instead of guidance on policy, they set out to, “explore and document:
The operational needs of law enforcement agencies
The law enforcement perspective on technology—including beliefs about its effectiveness
A prioritized list of technologies to develop for law enforcement
Barriers to the introduction of technology in the LEA community”
Ultimately, the study found that adopting new technology depends on police executives who “understand the importance of technology and can link technology to the agency’s overarching strategic goals.”
Simple is No Longer an Option
The technology landscape is not likely to simplify in the coming years. If anything, police executives will have to become comfortable working and delegating within an ecosystem of complex technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the rapidly expanding Internet of Things, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
There isn’t a single solution to offsetting the complexity introduced through technology, but there are solutions. Finding the right technology partners is a good first step after you’ve gone through the exercises to uncover what your agency needs in the context of its goals. After you’ve made a decision on a technology, you need to introduce it to your officers and champion adoption. We’ll address the typical pain points agency’s experience during an implementation and ways to avoid them.
(Ed. Note – This is the second part of a two-post series. Read the first post here.)
On Oct. 7, 2015, more than 100 of the nation’s leading law enforcement officers and politicians met in Washington D.C. to discuss the recent rise in violence experienced in a number of major U.S. cities. Convened by then U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the purpose of the panel was to not only determine why violent crime was increasing in major cities but also how law enforcement could address it.
Police Use of Force: The YouTube Effect
The discussion took an interesting turn when the head of Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Chuck Wexler, suggested that “perhaps the most difficult to calibrate, but the most significant, is this notion of a reduction in proactive policing.” Wexler was trying to point out a gap in cause and effect. Was crime a rising wave overpowering law enforcement agencies across the country, or was something else leading to the perceived rise in violent crime? Could it be that police were less proactive than they were? And if so, what was the cause?
Leaders from multiple major cities noted an emerging trend they were calling, “the YouTube Effect.” They’d observed their officers withdrawing from proactive policing following a cluster of high-profile cases where the use of force had been captured on video and distributed on different platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. These videos took split-second decisions and exposed them to an unprecedented level of public scrutiny.
Officers and law enforcement leadership weren’t prepared to manage the speed and amplification of negative sentiment made possible by social media. Seemingly overnight, what once might have been considered the exception became representative of law enforcement in its entirety. Officers found themselves existing in a limbo between law enforcement expectations and fearing that a single misinterpreted encounter could lead to a career-ending media frenzy. Or worse.
Later that month, in an address to several hundred law students, then FBI Director James Comey asked: “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime?” Additionally, Comey said reducing crime requires a strong police presence of officers willing to proactively seek out and stop criminal activity. Increasingly, it seemed, this willingness was offset by the perceived threat of viral videos.
Data Points: What Does Law Enforcement Think?
In 2017, the nonpartisan research group, the Pew Research Center partnered with the National Police Research Platform to conduct an expansive study of 7,917 American police officers, working in departments of 100 or more officers. The purpose of this study was to determine officers’ opinions of the policing profession amid widespread calls for police reform and anti-police protests.
The study, one of the largest of its kind ever conducted, surveyed American police officers on a variety of topics, mostly related to their feelings about their profession, how society views policing and how these things have changed over time. Considering the sample size (7,917), this study presents a statistically accurate representation of law enforcement’s feelings on the topic of policing.
Police on Policing
According to the study, 86% of officer respondents said the policing profession is now harder due to recent high-profile fatal encounters between police and minorities, and these incidents have made policing more dangerous. Additionally, it found 86% of officer respondents from departments with 2,600 officers or more said their fellow officers are more hesitant to stop and question individuals who may appear suspicious.
Furthermore, 85% of officer respondents in the 2,600 officer or more category reported being more reluctant to use force, even when force is warranted.
In regard to actually using force, 56% of officer respondents were concerned their peers would spend too much time diagnosing situations before acting decisively, while 41% were concerned their peers wouldn’t spend enough time diagnosing situations before acting.
When addressing use-of-force policies, 26% of officer respondents felt their department’s use of force guidelines were too restrictive, while 73% sided with the policies striking the right balance between restrictive and too lenient.
Additionally, 34% of officer respondents felt their department’s use-of-force guidelines were very helpful, while 51% felt the policies were somewhat helpful. The remainder of that final group (14%) felt that the guidelines were not helpful in use-of-force situations.
Resolutions Through Legislation
The State of California chose to take a more official route to addressing police use of force following the March 2018 shooting of Stephen Clark by Sacramento Police Officers. Within days of the shooting, the Sacramento Police released the officer’s body cam footage, which was quickly shared across various social media platforms.
In response to widespread activist support, California legislators introduced Assembly Bill 392, which aimed to re-define when a police officer can use deadly force; recommending a shift from the Supreme Court standard of “reasonable” to a new threshold of “necessary”. Under this bill, an officer must justify why deadly force is necessary, though opponents worry it could subject the officer’s decision to the relatively easier analysis of 20/20 hindsight. Additionally, the bill includes the definition that an officer face an ‘imminent harm’ which “is not merely a fear of future harm, no matter how great the fear and no matter how great the likelihood of the harm, but one that… must be instantly confronted.”
Following initial disagreements about the language of AB 392, law enforcement organizations, the public, and legislators were able to come to a resolution on AB 392, which, as of this writing, is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
Decide in Seconds, Revisit for Years
The use of force is undergoing a rapid transformation catalyzed by factors like the “YouTube Effect” and new state legislation. There’s a natural tendency to resist change, but there’s no putting this particular genie back in the bottle. Law enforcement is still a relatively young profession, only formally coming to being in the early 19th century. What feels like change is actually evolution: as the environment introduces new challenges to law enforcement, agencies adapt and become better able to serve their community because of it.
There’s no denying that many use-of-force instances necessarily result from split-second decisions. What police executives can do to offset the frustration and reluctance stemming from the increased scrutiny is put systems and technology in place to ensure officers have the best preparation to make the best decisions in those seconds.
Determining whether to get your agency accredited is probably one of the most important decisions you can make as a law enforcement leader. Yet, when police accreditation is mentioned, it can spark thoughts like – Does your agency have the time or personnel bandwidth to go through the process? Can you afford accreditation? What is the difference between national and state accreditation?
What is accreditation?
Law enforcement accreditation is a self-initiated, voluntary process and is based on standards which are reflective of best practices in law enforcement. Accreditation 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.
Much like accreditation for hospitals, colleges and schools, police accreditation involves an outside autonomous agency or group that establishes the professional best-practice standards for departments, as well as ensures the agency is following those standards by conducting a comprehensive onsite assessment.
What is national accreditation?
The national accreditation program for law enforcement agencies is the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). CALEA was created in 1979 with the purpose of improving the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a body of professional standards that support the administration of accreditation programs. The primary benefits of CALEA accreditation are: Controlled liability insurance cost; administrative improvements; greater accountability from supervisors; increased governmental and community support; means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community; and facilitation of an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.
CALEA accreditation is open to all types and sizes of law enforcement agencies, and its program seals are the “Marks of Professional Excellence” for today’s public safety agencies. The program seal reflects the gold standard benchmark associated with CALEA.
Enrollment: Agencies enroll in one or more of the CALEA Accreditation programs.
Self-Assessment: Initial self-assessment timeframes can take 24 – 26 months, and according to CALEA, “self-assessment refers to the internal, systematic analysis of an agency’s operations, management and practices to determine if it complies with applicable standards.”
Assessment: The assessment phase ensures standard compliance.
Commission Review Decision: The final credentialing decision is made by the Board of CALEA Commissioners. The Board facilitates a review hearing to discuss the assessment.
Maintaining Accreditation: CALEA accreditation is an on-going quality performance review of an agency. Therefore, reaccreditation is contingent upon the agency’s ability to meet CALEA standards and demonstrate continued compliance.
What is state accreditation?
State accreditation programs are designed to help law enforcement agencies establish and maintain standards that represent current professional law enforcement practices; to increase the effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of law enforcement services; and to establish standards that address and reduce liability for the agency and its members.
Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement.
Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of soundly written directives that are conceptually and operational effective.
Accreditation requires the agency to ensure the standards and written directives are being followed by provided proofs.
In state accreditation programs such as the one offered by MLEAC, the general process for becoming accredited includes a thorough self-analysis to determine how existing operations can be adopted to meet state standards. When procedures and policies are in place, a team of trained state assessors verify that applicable standards have been successfully implemented.
National vs. State — Key Differences
A key difference between state and national accreditation programs is workload, or what is actually involved in achieving accreditation. State programs often have less standards to meet than national accreditation programs.
In many cases, state accreditation programs for police believe their standards cover the same important points as CALEA — and are written to be specific to agencies within that state. According to the TPCAF Recognition Program site, the program is similar in nature to the national accreditation program, but easier to administer and is designed specifically for Texas Law Enforcement. Similarly, Neal A. Rossow, Accreditation Program Director at MACP stated, “We designed an accreditation process that any department could afford and could achieve. Our first accredited agency was the Rockford Department of Public Safety with 10 officers.”
Because of these two key differences, many agencies use state accreditation as a stepping stone to CALEA accreditation; simply, it provides the ability to experience the process without getting overwhelmed by cost or the number of standards.
CALEA is an outstanding national accreditation program, as are many state accreditation programs. So whichever accreditation program an agency selects and receives, they are demonstrating to themselves and the community they serve, their commitment to excellence in law enforcement.
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