Monday, October 29, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Milwaukee's Differential Police Response Program

The website Governing.com had a very interesting article that looked at Milwaukee Police and their Differential Police Response program. This program was put in place to reduce police response to calls that could be handled other ways.

“When your computer breaks, they don’t send a guy to your house to fix your computer,” says Flynn. “You dial a number and some very nice person in India tells you what to do with your computer.” Instead of dispatching “the armed authority of the state to your living room,” he reasoned, there was no reason that for certain types of calls -- nuisance or noise complaints or stolen property reports -- a police officer couldn’t handle it by picking up the phone and making a call.

As you can imagine, the DPR program has had successes as well as it's critics. The piece is a long one but one that is worth the read.

I've written at length on how the new economic reality has forced many departments to rethink how they respond to calls and what type of calls they will respond to. Yet, even the minor calls are often important to the citizens making them. While we need to avoid responding to some calls, we can't always do so at the risk of alienating the citizens we serve. Finding the middle ground between what we should respond to and what we shouldn't is important.

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