Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proving The Worth Of Your Police

Last week the news outlet The Atlantic Cities had a great article on a hotspot policing study conducted by Sacramento Police. In the study Sacramento Police focused on spending time in a list of crime hotspot locations and the officers were given instructions to be "highly visible" and make contact with citizens in and around these locations. The results were promising. Crime and calls for service in these hotspots went down.

But the point in this article is not just that Sacramento PD drove crime down in these hotspots but that this data driven approach to providing police services is the way to provide policing more efficiently. In Sacramento this was driven by lean budget times that caused them to lose the funding for 167 police positions.
“Data- and location-based policing is now essential,” Ratcliffe says. “And police are going to have to be much clearer about proving their worth.” 
Politicians, voters and police need to confront hard truths about what police do well, Ratcliffe says, and they need to outsource or slash the excesses. 
“We think about police in terms of crime but really they’ve become a social service,” he says. “Either police will continue to do all the things they’ve evolved to do—such as overseeing sex offender and gun registries, for example, while also criminalizing drug use—and they’re going to do them badly or they can concentrate on a few key tasks they can do very well, such as preventing and responding to violent crime.”
Even in areas that haven't suffered from slashed budgets, it's important for police agencies to be as efficient as possible in providing police services to their community. The days of driving around in a patrol car aimlessly while waiting for a call are over. Police departments have to strategically direct their efforts towards those things that will have the greatest effect on accomplishing their mission. It's also important that departments become adept at quantifying and communicating the value that the community gets for their hard earned tax dollars.

What are you doing to help your agency focus it's efforts to be as efficient as possible? How are you helping your community to know what they get for their money?


  1. Well Scott, I just had a good look at the Line of Duty site and it tells a truly dreadful tale. So many good people lost, it really looks like a catastrophic situation. Here in London, you may have heard, we have had our own growing issues with criminal activity and our police have come under attack from the politicians for not "doing enough". We adopted the position that the fault lay with the politicians not the police and that in the circumstances our force had done all it could and shown great restraint in the face of dreadful provocation.

    Human rights are not about one group or another they are the rights of everyone no matter what job they do. No-one should expect to be murdered in the line of their work and when that work is protecting the community then the community needs to stand firmly behind them.

    I will keep an eye on line of duty and at an appropriate moment make my own contribution and post it on to you.



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