Early Intervention Systems in the New Age of Police Reform

The following is part 2 of 2 in our IACP Leadership Series conversation between Benchmark CEO Ron Huberman and Maggie Goodrich, Consultant, University of Chicago Crime Lab and on the Baltimore, Cleveland and Newark Police Department Federal Monitorships. In this entry, Ms. Goodrich discusses her experience and imperatives in developing and implementing first-class early warning and intervention systems— as well as her belief in the importance of having wellness-focused, non-disciplinary support in place to be truly effective.

Welcome back to our leadership series, Maggie. To start, you were super instrumental, serving as an advisor for the University of Chicago Crime Lab, on the recently announced early warning system for the Chicago Police.

When you were working on that, or when you do your work as a monitor, what do you look for? What are the data sets that you say, “Look, here’s ground stakes for a good early warning system”? What things have you learned from the crime lab work that you think would be interesting for folks to think about — or what they might want to include in a personnel management/early warning system that they might be looking at?

MG: I think there are a few fundamental data sets that are a must-have for any early monitoring system. The basics of HR, obviously. Understanding who the employees are and the chain of command I think is important as well — who works for whom. Then, from there, it’s really thinking through all of the data that’s collected on a daily basis . . . maybe currently not in an automated fashion. In many departments, some data is still collected on paper.

To be able to get to a situation where you’re going to implement an early intervention system, you really have to get to a place where all of this data is collected electronically. For example, information on complaint investigations, use of force investigations, and police pursuits. Lawsuits are often asked about, and sometimes hard to get ahold of information mainly because they’re not always handled by the police department itself. So, having a good working relationship with a city or county entity that handles that aspect of data is important.

And then in terms of just implementing an early intervention system, I would say the other piece that often comes last in many implementations, I believe you really need to think about first — and foremost. I think Chicago PD did a really good job of this, in that they actually started at the end so to speak. By that I mean even if you have a very accurate early intervention system that can identify who needs support now – which officers need additional training or support or mental health services or whatever it may be that’s unique to the officer – an agency needs a menu of interventions to support officers in place.

If you don’t have a robust employee assistance program, mental health services and in-service training options to offer, then the system can really only be as good as what you have to offer when you identify somebody who needs support.

RH: Yes, that makes so much sense. It always strikes me that these things need to be concurrent. While you’re implementing and figuring out how the technology is going to work, you can concurrently figure out all the policy needs together.

MG: Absolutely. I think many agencies are thinking first and foremost about consent decree compliance, which is important. Often the consent decree says, “You need to have a system to do these things,” but often the consent decree doesn’t necessarily spell out the officer wellness and support portion in as much detail as it does the early identification portion. I think doing these two things in parallel is really important.

RH: Agree. It always strikes me that well beyond the handful of departments across our nation that are currently under consent decrees – and we’ll see what happens in the future – it’s such a basic, modern tool, in this current era of police reform is to understand your workforce and intervene to support them any way that you can just seems like a 101.

MG: Absolutely. Especially because of the limited resources that agencies have. Even if you develop a new training program that is groundbreaking and really going to help your police force tomorrow, you can’t get the whole department through your training that quickly. And in many departments, you can’t get the whole department through that training even in a few months because of the logistics involved in many instances. So, how do you decide who should get it now and who’s okay to get it maybe six months from now?

And so, how do you just apply those limited resources to your personnel in a way that’s going to benefit those who need it most today? I think an early intervention system is often talked about in such a negative light — viewed as a system that’s penalty-driven or disciplinary in nature. And really, a true early intervention system is not about discipline at all. It’s about getting resources and additional support and training or whatever it may be that an officer needs to meet their unique situation. How do you get that to them as soon as possible in light of the limited resources you have as an agency?

RH: Yes, that’s right. I think what I’m hoping for in this next chapter of police reform is that the systems that support the police to be better at their jobs are funded. Then to your point, in the budget cuts that are occurring because of COVID – and in certain cities the defund movement – we need to actually work to elevate the profession. And we do this by investing in the systems that support and help the police to be better at what they do — and consistent with how the community wants it.

MG: Just on that point, I really couldn’t agree more with you. That you talk about defunding, or even just having to cut the budget, because of tight financial times. Generally, you have to look at where you’re spending today and where you’re going to cut that funding; because all too often just an across-the-board five percent budget cut means that technology and equipment go first. Those are the line items that can be reduced more quickly — rather than salary costs, for example.

You really do a disservice to a department by not giving them the tools and technology they need to do a better job . . . the things that are the driving factors behind change in a police department, right. Focusing on transparency, focusing on accountability — all of these things can be supported and delivered to the community in a way that is really meaningful by the use of technology.

RH: Yes, and there are shining examples of it. I think in cities where the infrastructure has been invested, the people systems have been invested, and the people have been invested. Training is expensive, right. And we’ve seen those departments that have invested elevate. We’ve seen them be more effective. We’ve seen them have more trust with the community. We’ll see what happens. I’m an optimist — so I hope that we’ll see that happen.

Maggie, I’ve got two final questions for you. First, who are your heroes out there when it comes to the world of policing? It’s very easy right now for the police to be attacked for a whole bunch of reasons. In this difficult time for everyone in law enforcement, particularly people who have done their job so admirably and respectfully, who are the folks that you turn to and say, “You know what, these are my heroes in the profession.”

The other person is a civilian who was in the police department working under Bill Bratton — partnering with him on consent decree implementation. And that’s Gerry Chaleff. Gerry was on the board of police commissioners that oversaw the police department at one time, who actually helped negotiate the consent decree.

­And Bill Bratton had the foresight to call Gerry and say, “Well, you got us into this consent decree, you helped negotiate it and write it — come implement it. You know what you wanted to see, so come do the job.”

Again, I think it took a lot of foresight to hire Gerry into that type of position, but Gerry came in with a vision of how to do things right, how to support a police force — and also serve the community properly. He’s somebody, honestly, I call probably weekly for advice and guidance.

RH: Fantastic. We need those people. And for those of you who didn’t see the interview or read our blog on it, we had the privilege to interview Bill as part of our IACP Leadership Series as well.

Maggie, you bring so much expertise to our profession from a completely different angle, right. You’re someone who has thought about reform, someone who’s worked in policy, someone who understands technology, and someone who’s been involved in police reform in departments throughout the country.

My final question is this: You started your company so that you can share that expertise and support for folks who need it — and agencies who do it. Can you tell us the name of the company, a little bit about your vision for it, and who else is involved?

MG: Sure. I recently started a company called TacLogix with a couple of colleagues who also are formally LAPD — and are in the consulting world today. One is Arif Alikhan, who was previously the director of constitutional policing and policy for LAPD. The other is Dan Gomez, who is a retired lieutenant from LAPD, who essentially served as my CTO while I was CIO for LAPD. The three of us have formed TacLogix to be available to police departments across the country, as well as tech companies that are serving police departments with their technology.

The idea is that we go into agencies, perform an assessment of the current state of technology — bringing a 360° perspective drawing upon my IT background, Dan’s very technical but boots-on-the-ground perspective, and Arif’s policy and risk management perspective. We don’t come in and just look at IT for IT sake. We come in and look at the whole picture. We look at your training, look at your policy, and look at how all of your IT is working together to help make your department run more efficiently and effectively.

MG: There are two people I turn to when I need guidance in the policing profession — one is sworn, or was sworn, and one is civilian. They both were really the drivers behind the implementation of the consent decree of the LAPD, and the profound change at the LAPD. First is Bill Bratton. He brought me into LAPD at a time, quite frankly, where back then it was really strange to bring in a 32-year-old attorney . . . deem her deputy chief . . .and put her in charge of the bureau: a police department of 10,000 sworn personnel. It was really unheard of. I think if it weren’t for his vision and drive for doing the right thing – and serving the community properly while supporting officers at the same time – I don’t know that LAPD would be the changed department it is today. That vision was really critical. And so, Bill Bratton is somebody I call on regularly for perspective.

The other person is a civilian who was in the police department working under Bill Bratton — partnering with him on consent decree implementation. And that’s Gerry Chaleff. Gerry was on the board of police commissioners that oversaw the police department at one time, who actually helped negotiate the consent decree.

­And Bill Bratton had the foresight to call Gerry and say, “Well, you got us into this consent decree, you helped negotiate it and write it — come implement it. You know what you wanted to see, so come do the job.

Again, I think it took a lot of foresight to hire Gerry into that type of position, but Gerry came in with a vision of how to do things right, how to support a police force — and also serve the community properly. He’s somebody, honestly, I call probably weekly for advice and guidance.

RH: Fantastic. We need those people. And for those of you who didn’t see the interview or read our blog on it, we had the privilege to interview Bill as part of our IACP Leadership Series as well.

Maggie, you bring so much expertise to our profession from a completely different angle, right. You’re someone who has thought about reform, someone who’s worked in policy, someone who understands technology, and someone who’s been involved in police reform in departments throughout the country.

My final question is this: You started your company so that you can share that expertise and support for folks who need it — and agencies who do it. Can you tell us the name of the company, a little bit about your vision for it, and who else is involved?

MG: Sure. I recently started a company called TacLogix with a couple of colleagues who also are formally LAPD — and are in the consulting world today. One is Arif Alikhan, who was previously the director of constitutional policing and policy for LAPD. The other is Dan Gomez, who is a retired lieutenant from LAPD, who essentially served as my CTO while I was CIO for LAPD. The three of us have formed TacLogix to be available to police departments across the country, as well as tech companies that are serving police departments with their technology.

The idea is that we go into agencies, perform an assessment of the current state of technology — bringing a 360° perspective drawing upon my IT background, Dan’s very technical but boots-on-the-ground perspective, and Arif’s policy and risk management perspective. We don’t come in and just look at IT for IT sake. We come in and look at the whole picture. We look at your training, look at your policy, and look at how all of your IT is working together to help make your department run more efficiently and effectively.

We look at what IT you have today that maybe you aren’t completely leveraging. . . maybe there are aspects of your IT that if they were integrated – or if they were just used in a slightly different manner – you might actually get more out of your current investments. Then also looking at recommendations for future investments in IT. We don’t recommend any particular products specifically, we really try to be product agnostic. The idea is to make recommendations on what areas of technology you should put on your roadmap — then help you develop that roadmap and strategy for the future.

RH: Fantastic. Well, I wish I could have hired you when I was on the other side of the fence in government, we certainly could have used that trifecta of right policy, deep technical expertise, and the sworn experience from some of your teammates. It sounds like a powerful group. Maggie, we are super grateful that you’ve joined us for the IACP 2020 Leadership Series. We’re grateful for your service to the profession. You’ve made a big difference — and continue to do so.

This interview has been edited for clarity.