Meaningful Police Reform Includes an Early Intervention and Warning System

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.