The following is part 2 of 2 in our IACP Leadership Series conversation between Benchmark CEO Ron Huberman and Bill Bratton, former Police Commissioner of New York City. In this entry, Mr. Bratton discusses current police accountability intentions, as well as the need to re-imagine society in order to reform policing and regain public trust.

RH: Bill, you’ve had the opportunity to reform and change the Los Angeles police, the NYPD following your term in both cities, they became broadly more accepted, certainly from my observation by the communities that you served, crime was down. This is a unique moment…this is a challenging moment. If you were to find yourself tomorrow back in the police chief chair, what would be the very top things you would do to try to win back the trust, to try to get things on a stable course if you were chief today?

BB: I’ll be quite frank with you, I would do exactly what I did in Boston in 1991, New York City in ’94, Los Angeles in 2002, and New York in 2014. Effectively, what I do, what I think many American police chiefs attempt to do, is to look at their departments like a doctor looks at a patient…no two cities are alike. The good news is, like a doctor, there is a broad range of expertise, knowledge, tools, equipment, ideas, prescriptions – if you will – on the wall. It’s the job of the police leader to identify what are the illnesses afflicting his or her city and what medicines need to be used and how are they to be prioritized.

I would argue that in New York, in LA, my most recent three experiences – New York twice and LA once – that a lot of the new medicines we applied there were beneficial to that patient. The good news is they were transportable, they could be used in other cities, maybe in different prioritization, maybe in different measures. What would be the first thing I would do? The same thing I always do, I would go in and do the CAT scan of the patient, CAT scan the two patients, basically the department and the city.

What are the strengths, what are the illnesses, and then how do the police match up with the illnesses that they’re being asked to deal with…and so it’s not a one size fits all. There’s also something that – you certainly, your company is engaged in at the moment – is the demand for police accountability of the organization, the leadership of the organization, down to the rank and file. It’s something we have not been very good at in the sense of both internally, and certainly externally, explaining ourselves to the public on our accountability systems.

The training we give, the supervision we give, the discipline we issue …there’s no denying that that is the Achilles Heel of American policing. That our accountability systems, the ability to identify at-risk officers before they come on the job, watch them as they come on the job and grow, and then effectively start retraining when appropriate…those are areas that universally in American policing, need to be priorities of focus — as well as the idea of understanding how you evaluate an officer. How do you identify an officer that’s in trouble?

This is actually going back to the preventive mode I talked about, the idea of prevent it before it becomes a crises or an illness. So exactly as we learned to do with crime and disorder…exactly as doctors will get a patient to identify what hereditary traits does this person have, what danger signals are there. Well, that’s what policing – essential to moving forward, to meet the needs of the community – is going to do for a much more transparent and effective set of accountabilities.

RH: What’s interesting about what you said Bill is a little bit about the conversations that I have with chiefs today, which is that something occurs…they go back, they pull everything on the officer, because obviously it’s going to be discoverable, it’s going to come out in court, and the chief is left in the following position: they either have to tell the community they didn’t know in a very genuine way because they didn’t have the data to know, or they knew and they didn’t care.

Either narrative in today’s context of policing just doesn’t resonate, meaning people believe, I think, fundamentally that you should know, so you don’t get the benefit of the doubt to that preventive piece.

Just a quick note from our research, Bill, is exactly what you’re saying in the sense that it’s a small percentage of folks. But what happens is those small percentage of folks find each other and work together, and often will congregate in a watch under a similar supervisor where you can have a trouble pocket. You can have a highly reputable functioning police agency and you can have one or two watches across the city that are out of control and problematic. To the degree you can break that up and get in front of that, I think is an opportunity for change — that’s very powerful in today’s world.

The two things that I think about from listening to your comments — one is there is this American reality…you talked about your Boston Police experience in the ’70s…I can tell you I policed in the Chicago police in the ’90s and saw racist actions. There is this generational dialogue that when I talk to my African-American friends and folks who live in communities that are highly policed where the families have stories of injustice, and so there has been this rage that has built — not because so much of what has occurred now, but because what has occurred now is representative of all these stories that have been passed down of the injustice.

And there’s now an opening or a moment where there is an airing of all of this generational grievances from grandparents to parents, of things that have been experienced, that it’s very hard for me to understand this moment, versus this moment being representative of a history, that I think is interesting.

Just one other comment and I’m going to jump to my next question to you, Bill, which is also this idea that what also strikes me about this moment is that when we look at the issue of race, opportunity, and lack of opportunity, it’s a very broad conversation. When I was school superintendent, I would always compare the amount of money I had to educate a student versus someone on the border of Chicago. I had about $7,000 a year, as a school superintendent in Chicago, to provide full education per student. If you lived on the other side of Howard Street, which is Evanston, that community spent $21,000 a year educating every student. Yet, the conversation around this issue is only about the police — it doesn’t cover housing discrimination, it doesn’t cover issues of education. And I think part of the challenge that police have is that until we broaden the conversation to what it rightfully should be, which is a larger societal conversation, police are going to own all these issues. Police can never own all these issues. It is a fundamentally unrealistic premise that somehow we need to have a larger dialogue about.

BB: Let me add to your comment about this moment, the moment, and the comments you just made. I’m thinking of earthquakes, seismic shifting of plates, volcanoes building up and exploding. Why is this time so different – 2020…2019 – than it was back in the ’60s, and then in the ’70s, then in the ’90s again?

One of the things that we are seeing is that we have been the dumping ground, if you will, for a lot of society and the government’s failed efforts to deal with mental illness…to deal with the drug crisis…to deal with the education crisis…to deal with the housing crisis…to deal with the unemployment crisis. All of those are significant influences on minority populations who are impacted the most by those things that the police don’t control.

When we let all the mentally ill out of the institutions in the ’70s and created the homeless populations on the street, who ended up having to service that population? Police. When we ended up with the drug crisis, particularly the ’80s and the occurrence now with opioids, who ends up dealing with that because of the government’s failure to adequately address that? The police. Who ends up with a failure of the education system, something you had mentioned that you had intimacy with from so many perspectives? It is the police, because if those kids don’t stay in school, are out on the streets on the corners, who are they going to end up encountering as they’re hanging out?

I believe what has happened at this moment and one of the positives about this moment, is that we are basically facing a reckoning. The reckoning around systemic racism, which is now being much more discussed and in a much more transparent fashion that it does exist.

The good news is that we’re at a point of reckoning. While the attention right now has been on police, police reform, and unfortunately the very visible actions of the police — that we are now entering into a discussion and appreciation that you can focus all you want on the reform of the police, but until you reform a lot of these other issues, the seismic plates are going to continue to rub against each other. Even though it looked good on the surface, that police reform by wonderful chiefs who want to reform…those other issues, if they’re not addressed – boom – they’re going to continue to explode.

RH: It’s clearly an “and” meaning the police reform, the reckoning on race, the historic reckoning of the race between police and communities today, we need to figure out that reimagining of the police that wins the trust and we concurrently have to make it a bigger conversation so that we solve these other problems and we get them on the table. Ultimately, I think we’re both agreeing that without other reform on other issues of equity as it relates to education and investment, I don’t know if the police alone will ever get us out of where we are.

The following is part 1 of 2 in our IACP Leadership Series conversation between Benchmark CEO Ron Huberman and Bill Bratton, former Police Commissioner of New York City. In this entry, Mr. Bratton shares his expert historical perspective of policing platforms from different eras, which have all come together at this particular moment in time.

RH: Bill, this moment in American policing history seems to me to be different than almost any other historical precedent. Can you share your thoughts on how you might think of this moment of time relative to other moments in American policing — and what lessons might be learned from other moments like this that have been experienced?

BB: Well, I look at this period of time from the perspective of the 50 years I have actively spent in law enforcement or associated with it. I joined the Boston Police Department on October 7th, 1970. Over these last 50 years, I’ve been a witness to, a participant in, and in some instances, a leader in the ongoing evolution of policing in our country.

In many respects, that evolution has been marked by periods of revolution because the changes are so profound. At this point in time — 2019 to 2020 — we are in one of those revolutionary periods. It’s a major inflection point in terms of where it’s going to end up. The irony is police are always reforming. It’s like the practice of medicine…it’s like watching what’s going on with the coronavirus. We’re continually evolving and reforming. Well similarly, there’s a crime virus, where we’re always reforming and trying to find new ways to deal with it.

Going back to 1970 — I’m a great friend of, colleague, and admirer of George Kelling and his writing. George was so influential in my life over these last 50 years and has been so influential in American policing. I would argue that he’s the godfather of American policing…and he describes eras of policing in this country. One being the political era up to probably the 1930s, ’40s, early ’50s — in which politics really ruled policing in terms of its growth, its effectiveness, and its impact. Then in the ’50s, ’60s, and certainly into the ’70s, we entered into what was called and what George described as the Reform Era, the professionalization of American policing. That’s when I came into the business, and the profession which described itself as a profession in 1970 was anything but.

The first revolution that I was exposed to was in the 1970s. In the next 20 to 30 years, we were in that reform professional era — new technologies…911 came into being…computers…and much better training. At the same time, however, we were losing the fight against crime and disorder. I emphasize crime and disorder because I go back to Sir Robert Peel, the Peelian principles — the first being the basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.

One of the problems of the professional reform era was that we moved away from the idea that police could prevent; we focused instead on response because society was supposed to figure out how to prevent crime — a major mistake. We lost the fight against crime and disorder in the ’80s. Effectively, in 1990 throughout the country…New York City, which I was very intimate with…and Boston at that time, we had the worst crime years in the history of those cities and our country.

But another revolution occurred, one that I was pleased to be a participant of because it was birthed at Harvard University, the Kennedy School of Government, with the Executive Sessions on Policing, 17 major papers that effectively formed the foundation of community policing — neighborhood policing as we described it. I was privileged to write the last paper of the 17 with George Kelling; George wrote or co-authored six of those.

In the ’90s, we saw the benefit of that guidance, of that reform of American policing. That was assisted in 1994, with the creation of CompStat, the use of data to identify more quickly where problems were developing so we could move more quickly to prevent them — as well as accountability. So, we moved into the 21st century with crime going down dramatically and the profession continuing to reform and improve.

And then in the 21st Century, another revolution — 9/11, where American policing had to pivot very quickly to also deal with the issue of terrorism. Then a little later in that decade, 2007/2008, we had the birthing of the smartphone and all of the social media that came with it — Kindle, Twitter, and all those revolutions. In 2014, another revolution, Al Qaeda was superseded by ISIS as the major terrorist threat.

But also, in 2014, Ferguson, Missouri and the Garner incident in Staten Island in New York — which gave birth once again to the racial injustice issues that had always been percolating just below the surface. And once again, police were at the center of that — if anything they were the match that set the kindling on fire.

For the last four years, we have been engulfed, if you will, with the continuing threat of terrorism, a rebirth of the crime and disorder issue, the birthing of the Black Lives Matter issue, and all of those at this time in history are unresolved. They are all still a work in progress. Hopefully, that was a quick walk through.

RH: Yes, that’s exactly what I was hoping for though because you’ve lived through it and you led through those moments of American policing history. I think it’s lost on a lot of folks, or they just haven’t had the advantage of your experience. Bill, what strikes me about the current moment in reform is that there are lessons from each of those eras, lessons such as making the officer, so-called a warrior, because they’re only brought to bear for the most hardened criminals.

We can think of a lot of examples where history might suggest that the right next steps for American police reform are different than what is being prescribed in cities across our nation. Can you give a little perspective to what you are observing as the reforms that are being called for? What you would say from a historical perspective — are they on the right track, are they on the wrong track? How should a chief today think about that?

BB: To get back to 2020, we need to go back again quickly to the ’70s and ’80s. As part of that professional reform era, we were also dealing with rising crime, almost unchecked in the ’70s, and ’80s. The focus of policing was also attempting to deal with the 911 mess that was created, if you will, we were overwhelmed by 911 technology. We were also overwhelmed by crime and disorder. And so, policing, even as it was reforming, was recruiting and training and focused on the idea of fighting the war on crime.

That’s what the strength of community policing was, because as it evolved into the ’90s, community policing emphasized a lot of the Peelian principles of partnership. Police couldn’t do it alone, even as warriors. They needed partners in the rest of the criminal justice system, but in particular, they needed to work with the community. In working with the community, they had to identify the problems that were making the communities unsafe and fearful. And so, for the first time, policing began to engage with communities to understand cities like New York with 276 different neighborhoods. Chicago, probably many similar different neighborhoods. No two neighborhoods have exactly the same set of problems. Well, we tried to police it as a monolithic entity, and were policing it in response mode. In the ’90s, we shifted to focus on community priorities, partnerships, and the goal became prevention of crime…measured crime…where two, three, four incidents developed a pattern trend before they became 20 or 30.

Coming into the 21st century and moving up to 2020 very quickly…what is being asked of the police now, in some respects, the irony of the moment, is that the reforms of the last 30 years which I’m intimate with…I think of myself as a reformer, I think of the organizations I work with – PERF, Major Cities Chiefs, my colleagues in many of the major cities around the country, IACP – that we’ve been focused on reform. We’ve been focused on better training, better recruiting, diversification, better use of technology, better officer safety, de-escalation.

The irony is everything that is being looked for at the moment, we’re in an etch-a-sketch moment where those that are demanding reform are totally neglecting all the reform that has occurred to date. Everything in President Obama’s 21st Century initiative back in 2015 and 2016, the NYPD was doing with one or two exceptions — everything. The reform efforts of many police departments that I’m intimate with – New York, LA, Boston – were there. Were they there as far as an ultimate outcome? No, but they were embracing change.

The change that’s being looked for now, the concern I have is a generation driving the demand for change who have no memory, no understanding of history in terms of how far we have come. I would argue, American policing is one of the most progressive institutions, if not professions, in America in terms of our efforts to diversify. Where we are is not where we want to be certainly, but where we are, we’re not getting credit from where we’ve come from.

RH: Yes, lots of progress and lots of room to go, I think for sure.

Don’t miss Part 2 in our post, The Role of Societal Change in Police Reform and Accountability. Mr. Bratton discusses current police accountability intentions and the need to re-imagine society in order to reform policing.

Law enforcement software has changed immensely over the past decade. We have seen software innovations that help improve administrative workflows, such as use of force or internal affairs reports, as well as software that captures and utilizes data to help police chiefs make decisions on how to best serve their communities. More often than not, these innovations are presented as single-point solutions — versus as part of an integrated, holistic suite of offerings.

These standalone software applications are designed to address one specific agency need, such as training management, performance evaluations, or Covid-19 personnel tracking. While these systems capture and track information for the task they were built for, in the end they are disparate cogs in a machine that requires seamless integration and connectivity.

The Complexities of Standalone Software Applications
Until recently, the market has driven how agencies are able to purchase software solutions for their myriad of needs. And by that we mean, one by one: one platform for early warning and intervention . . . one platform for training . . . one for Covid-19 tracking . . . and so on and so on. And while these single-point purchases solve individual challenges in the short-term, over time they can lead to increased complexities within the agency and its administrative process.

The Benefits of a Single-Provider Software Suite

For example, agencies that utilize multiple software applications can experience integration challenges and find it difficult to compare and correlate data across applications. As a result, many administrative hours are spent on manual processes or even spreadsheets, in order to link information together from these different standalone systems. This takes valuable team time away from conducting more important core duties. And on top of all that, by the time all the information is integrated as needed, it may already be outdated and inaccurate. The unintended consequences? Agencies possibly making critical decisions based on inaccurate information . . . or making a hasty and potentially risky decision without benefit of the full information picture . . . OR, in lieu of that complete picture, taking no action at all.

Additionally, IT departments spend time and money maintaining, upgrading or acquiring new versions of each standalone application. When one application has a new version, it may require additional integration and maintenance with the other standalone systems in order for it to work, which in the end leads to an increase in hours and costs to maintain. All this, and we still see some agencies “make do” with multiple software applications, even if that strategy may not serve their various stakeholders in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The Benefits of a Single-Provider Software Suite
A single-provider software suite is a collection of software applications that have correlative features and functionality for law enforcement agencies. These suites also share a similar user interface and have the ability to easily exchange data with each other. Agencies who utilize a single-provider software suite experience numerous benefits. Here are a few below:

  • Data in one place.
    The key to avoiding manual work and time-consuming tasks is to ensure your agency has the ability to create, update, or modify data all in one place. For example, with standalone systems, personnel may need to log into several different applications to complete functions. With a single-provider software suite, individuals can utilize any portion of the system and input data that can be easily shared across other portions of the suite — saving valuable administration time. The Benefits of a Single-Provider Software SuiteAdditionally, the right software suite can seamlessly integrate all data, automate data processes and update information in real-time —  making it is easy to generate reports and compare data. Automating such processes also allows agencies to minimize personnel time spent on data-mining activities.
  • Decreased redundant IT tasks.
    Agencies with several standalone systems consume valuable IT time managing, maintaining and upgrading each individual system. A single, holistic software suite streamlines efficiency and minimizes redundancy in IT tasks.
  • Consistent experience.
    Standalone systems will have their own unique user interface designs. With a single-provider software suite, agencies get a consistent UX, which can minimize confusion, reduce learning time and increase overall usability.

Ultimately, with a single-provider software suite, agencies achieve transparency, streamline data, and manage department functions in one place. For these and other reasons, leading agencies are turning to Benchmark Analytics and its suite of personnel management software, which includes the Benchmark Management System® (BMS), First Sign® Early Intervention and Case Action Response Engine® (C.AR.E.).

BMS is a comprehensive software suite that features seven analytics-driven modules, which include: 1) Training 2) Use of Force 3) Internal Affairs 4) Activity 5) Officer Profile 6) Performance Evaluation and 7) Community Engagement. These seven integrated modules capture critical data and departmental reports that are easy to view in the BMS dashboard.

First Sign then leverages the data in BMS and analyzes it to identify officers who are exhibiting both on-track and off-track behavior. Once off-track behavior has been identified in First Sign, Benchmark expedites thoughtful and effective early intervention with C.A.R.E. — a proactive, targeted support program that features research-based case management modules for officer-specific interventions.

To learn more about the Benchmark Analytics Software Suite, visit: https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/police-force-management-blueprint/

Or, contact us today at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/public-safety-demo/

Every day we witness extraordinary acts of bravery from those sworn to serve and protect — and who are deserving of our respect and appreciation. But we’ve also witnessed firsthand the impact even a single, negative incident can have on an entire organization. And while that dynamic is not exclusive to policing – and almost certainly exists within most any workplace environment – the consequences can be just so much deeper and more tragic.

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) aptly stated, “the vast majority of this country’s law enforcement officers are principled men and women who provide professional service to the communities they serve. Their responsibilities are great, and the expectations from their communities are high. Unfortunately, there are times when officers’ performance fall short of agency expectations for any number of reasons.”

Police ReformNever before have we as a country had such a sustained national dialogue on police transparency, accountability and yes, reform. While police reform is complex, the idea’s essence is that policing requires transformation in order for today’s agencies to continue to meet the challenges of their profession and better serve their communities. Such transformation requires a vested commitment from police departments for sure, but also from community leaders and elected officials. And the burden is on all to understand what can be done to pre-empt and prevent one more incident from happening in their neighborhoods and on their streets.

Meaningful police reform should include early intervention and warning systems
A law enforcement early intervention and warning system is a police force management tool designed to identify officers whose behavior is concerning, or problematic, at the earliest possible stage so that intervention and support can be offered in an effort to re-direct performance and behaviors toward agency goals.

(Source: Best Practices in Early Intervention System Implementation and Use in Law Enforcement Agencies)

According to an article in Police Chief Magazine, “EISs are a staple in U.S. police departments—a 2007 survey showed that 65 percent of surveyed police departments with 250 or more officers had an EIS. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, the U.S. Department of Justice, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Police Foundation have all recommended departments use these systems. Most federal consent decrees require a department to use an EIS.”

With that said, there are different types of EI systems to consider. The most common are threshold-based systems, that are reliant on fairly simple triggers. For example, if an officer has had three use-of-force incidents in the last six months . . . or if they’ve taken more than 10 days of sick leave in the last two months . . . a flag gets raised. And the problem with that simple system is that it’s almost always inaccurate. It also creates two types of critical errors — false positives and false negatives.

A research-based system evaluates total behavior patterns including context of activity and peer group, by utilizing algorithms to provide risk scores for officers across the department. This predictive model not only identifies patterns of police officer conduct that lead to problematic behavior, but also identifies patterns of behavior that lead to exceptional conduct. Further, it evolves and gets smarter over time as new insights, lessons learned, innovative practices and technical advancements are uncovered.

The impact of a research-based EIS
As part of an agency’s larger effort to support and improve officer performance and identify and address officers before a serious problem occurs, a research-based system – such as Benchmark’s First Sign® Early Intervention – can enhance accountability and transparency as well as the overall integrity of the agency’s performance.Research EIS

Powered by evidence-based research and analytics, First Sign is preventative by design to notify you at the ‘first sign’ of a real need to intervene. First Sign leverages data captured on officer performance and behaviors and allows supervisors and commanders to review and compare data for individual officers, units and watches. Supervisors can assign intervention actions early on for potentially problematic behavior in need of correction, as well as make recommendations for exceptional performance deserving recognition.

Agencies across the U.S. continue to choose First Sign as part of their police reform strategy, because its data-driven system proactively and pre-emptively identifies potentially problematic officer behavior so supervisors can take corrective action. Ron Huberman, CEO of Benchmark Analytics, stated in a recent article “The whole idea behind what we do is to allow police leaders to get in-front of problematic situations before they occur. What makes it predictable is that officers who are engaged in problematic conduct rarely ever do we see it occur from a single incident, where they had one problematic incident. Typically, it’s a cluster or pattern of problems.”

To learn more about First Sign, visit our page at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/first-sign-early-intervention/

To learn more about why your agency should consider an early intervention system, download our Must-Have Checklist for Meaningful Reform: 6 Critical Criteria of an Early Intervention System.

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

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

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

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

Community Policing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Engagement Technology

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

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

Law Enforcement COVID 19

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

Law Enforcement Technology that Support Agency Workforce Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Computer-based training can be traced back to the mini-computer and mainframe of the 1960s and ‘70s. It was the first-time training was conducted without having to rely on printed worksheets or face-to-face instruction, and instead, employees logged into shared terminals to access training materials. It was 1998 when we experienced the first generation of online instruction.

(Source: eLearning Industry https://elearningindustry.com/history-of-blended-learning)

Curated Content as a Service

Today, many organizations deliver online instruction through training platforms, which are online tools that provide training administrators and employees access to information and resources that support training delivery and management. However, not all training platforms are the same, and there are pitfalls to having a legacy platform in place.

What is a legacy training platform?

Legacy training platforms refer to software applications that rely on old methods and have become outdated, such as traditional Content-as-a-Service (CaaS).

Traditional CaaS software provides a content repository, such as a collection of videos, research papers and PowerPoints, to be accessed by organizations for training and professional development needs. While having content in one place is certainly beneficial, there are disadvantages to having this type of legacy system within your organization. Legacy System

For example, some organizations purchase off-the-shelf training that is designed for a mass-market audience versus a specific organization’s need. The traditional CaaS will store the off-the-shelf training, but it lacks the capability to distinguish what training is relevant to your organization’s specific needs. Additionally, protocols and industry standards constantly change, and traditional systems aren’t wired to update courses and content that would be considered outdated or obsolete.

It can also be difficult for training administrators to get to the content they want within the traditional CaaS platform because they’re spending time filtering through unneeded training. In the end, organizations may have learning content that they do not utilize or worse, is not relevant to their current needs.

What is Curated Content-as a-Service?

Engagement is critical when training your employees. According to HR Daily Advisor, “When learners are provided access to personalized, curated learning content that is applicable to their current roles and career trajectories, they will constantly search for opportunities to exhibit the skills they’re learning at work because they’ll be relevant. And when they optimize their performance and see how their learning paths are helping them achieve their goals and move forward in their career trajectories, they’ll be more engaged at work.”

Curated Content as a Service

At Benchmark, we understand that the most successful LMS outcomes is research-driven, evidenced-based eLearning content. Equally important, the most effective LMS is one that engages your employees in a way that inspires them, elevates their skills and improves their performance in meaningful, measurable ways. Which is why our LMS strategy employs Curated Content-as-a-Service™ (C-CaaS) as our differentiating, breakthrough process for enabling 21st century workforce skills in the workplace.

We’ve adapted the 21st Century Workforce Skills model to serve as a roadmap for partnering with public sector entities to create a thoughtful, curated content plan that will elevate your employee skill sets – and measurably improve performance levels ­– to better meet the needs and goals of your agency.

Here’s how the process works:

  • Meet and Assess
    Meet to understand and assess your current training program and compliance needs — as well as the level of workforce skills.
  • Establish Objectives
    Set eLearning objectives to comply with your training guidelines and address specific areas in need of improvement.
  • Curate Content
    Assign a Benchmark C-CaaS team of research-driven content curators to identify and deploy content that meets your objectives — accessing our robust library of eLearning offerings.
  • Configure and Implement
    Collaborate with your employee development team to configure and implement our LMS platform to meet your unique needs.
  • Evaluate and Evolve
    Evaluate your LMS content regularly to track performance, obtain feedback and make informed adjustments to evolve and advance your offerings.

Our LMS was built specifically with public sector agencies in mind. The Benchmark eLearning team includes thought leaders with years of experience in government operations, policymaking, education, professional development and eLearning proficiency.

Their expertise includes research and data analytics, software architecture and design, research-based content curation — along with highly skilled platform configuration, implementation and customer support.

To learn more, visit our Benchmark eLearning Differentiator: Curated Content-as-a-Service™ page at https://www.benchmarkanalytics.com/government-lms/

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?