No, this article is not about trains, but chances are the sub-title has got you wondering. When you think about it, the concept of Intelligence Led Policing is not unlike a train itself. A train is “a series of railroad cars moved as a unit by a locomotive or by integral motors.” So when you speak of a train, you speak of all of the cars linked together moving down the track toward one common destination.This analogy should be the same for the functionality of our departments. Theoretically we should be moving toward the same destination. Unfortunately that’s not often the case.
In my last blog entry I wrote that to introduce Intelligence Led Policing to your department first required a supportive and informed command structure. So now that our command structure has bought in to the concept, we need that information to be distributed throughout the entire department. Easier said than done. As law-enforcement entities we have a tendency to compartmentalize ourselves into different divisions or groups. The great majority of which have a purposeful and utilitarian role; patrol units, criminal investigation units, crime scene units, community outreach units, support services units, and the list goes on. However, these necessary yet compartmentalized units are a double edged sword. What I mean is, all of this compartmentalization adds to one of our departments greatest hurdles: where the right-hand doesn’t know what the left-hand is doing. We all know and experience this problem day in and day out. No matter which of these units you find yourself in, very seldom do you understand the scope of direction of each individual department.
Department-wide Roll Out
It is for this very reason that when you implement Intelligence Led Policing into your organization, it is imperative that you move forward with a Department-wide Roll Out. Do not fall victim to the line of thinking that says the only person(s) in your department that needs to be trained in Intelligence Led Policing are those that are in your ILP division. This is the same line of thinking that believes ILP can work based on ILP staff issuing reports to the department anchored solely on the training and information only the ILP staff know. In reality that kind of thinking just leads to a lack of trust and belief in the system because it all hovers around one individual or a group of individuals that seem to “hold the keys.” Allow your trained Intelligence Led Policing staff to introduce and train the rest of your department in how the methodology works and how each department member can and should have a role in the process. This way everyone becomes a stakeholder with key roles and responsibilities, guiding them to take ownership in the program’s success. This approach holds true for departments large and small – even those that can’t afford to have an ILP division with multiple people in it. No matter how you decide to implement Intelligence Led Policing into your agency, it must be implemented and trained upon at a departmental scale.
Here’s a Few Steps to Follow
- Evaluate Technology Vendors – What vendors offer industry specific analytics solutions? Define a list of feature must haves versus nice to haves. Look at how any given system handles your RMS/CAD data, what feature sets it has (and what those allow you to do), how it secures your data, what type of support is provided by the company, how long a typical implementation and training takes, and of course cost. Note: while it isn’t totally necessary to make a technology purchase, the point is to develop new insights from analyzing your data over time in a rapid, on-demand manner. Manual analysis requires detailed manipulation that can take days or weeks to build reports – instead of minutes.
- Introductory Meeting – Be prepared to introduce ILP to your agency in a series of meetings held with one to two departments at a time. You’ll want to define it, illustrate current agency pain points, describe goals with moving towards this methodology, and present a plan with a timeline for a full roll out.
- Data Management - You’ve got to have a basic understanding of your data. Make sure your crime reports correlate to the appropriate crime types. They should also include date, time, location, and detailed notes. Some analytics solutions will help you clean your data so that you get valuable information out of your systems. But you still need to understand how that data has been entered into the system over the years. This may be a painful process, but will reap rewards that in the end allow you to make tactical decisions that help you lower crime.
- Create Expectations - Moving towards an ILP model – while directed by the people in charge of intelligence – requires multiple stakeholders to pitch in. From analysts, to command staff, to officers, and dispatch, there should be clear training and expectations on how new systems will be used and processes followed.
- Support Expectations With Training - In order to make sure all agency members are on the same page, prepare entry level training into how to conduct ILP and how to use new systems. Understand that some people will learn by listening and others need visuals. Don’t just talk about the new system. Be ready to open it, walk through it, and show the trainees basic functionality. Also, tailor your presentation to your audience. If your analysts will use the technology differently than your command staff (and they should), make sure you show each audience how they can use it to their specific benefit. Conducting online training? Record the session so people can follow up. To do all this you may need to bring in your technology provider to conduct the training. Reputable vendors will provide this as part of their package/service. Additionally, some will have options for consultancy. An consultant will be able to review your data, set up your systems, and take a deep dive with your intelligence person(s) in a way that goes beyond basic training.
- Follow Up – Prepare follow up emails with tips and best practices throughout the year following the launch of your ILP initiative. It’s important to continually positively reinforce what your staff can do with the system. Schedule group meetings from time-to-time to illustrate key points. And finally, report results on a monthly basis so that everyone in the agency can see how this methodology is making an impact in the community.
In my first year of moving to ILP and integrating an new analytics solution we were able to gain insights and make field-level decisions that ultimately led to a 20% reduction in FBI part 1 crimes. The downward trend continued in the two years that followed. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be glad to have a chat with you. Stay tuned for my next entry in this Yardsticks for Intelligence Led Policing series.