So you are nearly ready to kick Intelligence Led Policing into high gear! Your data is right, your training is in place, your command structure and your officers are ready to go. So now what? The next step admittedly requires something that very few of us enjoy: meetings. Meetings are however integral part of Intelligence Led Policing. Strategic and tactical meetings are the most effective methods of disseminating “game plan” information throughout your department. Don’t think of these in the same terms that you think about your current meetings though. These meetings should have a completely different feel to them. Instead of being filled with facts and spreadsheets, these meetings should go way beyond simple numbers. They should answer the question “now what?” As in, “well that’s nice data and all, but now what?”
Let’s look at your staff meeting for instance. In general, most staff meetings are simply crime numbers and maybe a few maps. The meeting generally sounds like this, “we had five of these, 12 of those, blah blah blah,” on and on. Keep in mind I’m speaking from experience here. If I am poking fun at anyone, then I am poking at myself first and foremost. The very first staff meeting that I began with was built around the basic Comp Stat concept. While there is certainly nothing wrong with Comp Stat, the way we were utilizing the method, left us with PowerPoint slides filled with raw data — lacking the “now what?” element. Following the teachings of Intelligence Led Policing, we transformed our staff meeting from a series of reports based on raw numbers, to a fully interactive crime fighting meeting. We did not just look at and study our current crime trends, we compared those trends to historical patterns to assist us in determining the possibility of future patterns. I spoke earlier about strategic and tactical meetings and the importance of having both. Using what we have learned from Intelligence Led Policing, we were able to utilize our staff meeting for both long-term strategic planning as well as short-term tactical crime-fighting plans.
Productive Meetings Include More Than Raw Data
Let me explain what I mean. For starters, I transformed our PowerPoint staff meeting presentation to move from a list of numbers to included charts, satellite maps, heat maps, graphs, and time of day/day of week charts — visualizations for our crime data instead of just list of crimes. I also did not keep myself handcuffed to just the PowerPoint. While using PowerPoint was very important, especially when it came to record keeping, it’s was also key to move beyond simple slides and step into making our meeting more visually engaging and interactive.
The way I bridged that gap was by having a large drop down projector screen in the middle our meeting room, and then I had two flat screen televisions flanking each side of the projector screen. The flat screen televisions were connected directly to a laptop that I was controlling so that I could show live and historical data in real-time to my command staff – this was in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation. A typical meeting would consist of reviewing the past month’s crime data – specifically what happened, where it happened, and when it happened. In most meetings, however, questions would arise in relation to crimes that might have a common thread, suspect, or geographic area. The best part is that as questions arose, we were able to transition the meeting on the fly from strategic to tactical; something that was only possible because of the live crime data feed coming from our analytics solution.
Deep Insights and Collaboration Lead to Arrests
I remember one time in particular, a lieutenant was giving a report about some burglaries in his zone. He was telling the staff about the particular m.o. that his suspect displayed when a different lieutenant from another zone spoke up that he was having similar style burglaries. At that point a captain had remembered some burglaries from years past that had the same style and mentioned a suspects name, he added that this suspect liked to walk to his crimes. A quick check of the prison records showed that he had very recently made parole and was living at his mothers address. I then centered my live map on the suspects mothers’ house and showed the burglaries in question in relation to that house. All of the burglaries in question were within walking distance of his mothers’ house. Of course, at that point, our detectives took over and were able to close the case based on that information.
I have a few other stories like this to share. And I’m confident that when you move in this direction, you will too. I encourage you to begin the transformation of your department’s meetings with your command staff meeting, and then use that general template for your other meeting needs. Starting with your staff meetings is an excellent vehicle for instructing your command staff on this new Intelligence Led Policing style. It will also allow your command staff to become comfortable enough to conduct their own meetings using this much more efficient and effective style of crime-fighting.
I’d love to hear similar stories and field any questions you may have. Feel free to comment here and/or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.