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Intelligence Led Policing Yardsticks – Department-wide Roll Out

All Aboard The ILP TrainTrain

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, I’d be glad to have a chat with you. Stay tuned for my next entry in this Yardsticks for Intelligence Led Policing series.

BYOD: Cutting Costs and Boosting Efficiency for the Cash-strapped Agency

So your agency is a bit strapped for cash. Sadly, its not surprising given the Great Recession’s far reaching impact on the operating budgets of law enforcement agencies across the nation.  In fact, IACP’s  2011 study showed that 1/3 of agencies surveyed  nation-wide expected budget reductions in 2012. Just this week, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced that his department would lose 500 officers without a $200 million tax increase to fill the department’s budget gap.  It seems agencies everywhere are challenged to do more with shrinking resources but for most communities taking cops off the street to cut costs [is a last resort]. So where else can you find cost savings?

Technology as a Force Multiplier

As cash-strapped communities are looking for ways to cut spending while keeping more officers on the streets, many agencies are cutting back on costly tech budgets while others are shifting their operational models to use technology systems that improve efficiency and cut costs. Take for example San Francisco PD, who recently developed a mobile application that enables officers to  file reports when out on patrol. Designed for use on smartphones, the new application eliminates the need to run back to the office to deal with paperwork which enables officers to stay on the streets up to 4 additional hours per day.

BYOD-Bring Your Own Device 

Unfortunately for the San Francisco PD, they can’t afford the $1.5 million necessary to put smartphones into the hands of every officer. Chances are your agency can’t afford to buy the department that needed batch of tablets, smart phones or other necessary mobile devices either. But why should [the agency] dish out, if those devices are already in the hands of the workforce? Today there are more iPhones are sold per day than babies born in the world; as mobile devices proliferate in the hands of consumers, corporations and government agencies alike are adopting policies that let employees use their personal mobile devices for and at work. In fact, according to a March 2012 GovTech study 40% of state and local IT government professionals say their agencies already have some sort of BYOD policy.

Cutting Costs and Boosting Efficiency

While there are many reasons an agency might consider implementing a BYOD policy, cost savings is chief. According to a May 2012 Cisco Business Solutions study of 600 U.S. IT professionals, savings based on reduction of IT costs and increased productivity ranges from $300 to $1300 annually per employee. So how are government agencies using BYOD to cut costs and boost efficiency?

  • Device Purchase and Maintenance: By letting the force use their own smartphones and tablet devices, IT doesn’t have to purchase as many (if any) smartphone/mobile devices. Additionally, BYOD reduces (if not eliminates) the time and resources necessary for maintaining a fleet of devices (software upgrades, hardware fixes) as the responsibility for device procurement and maintenance falls to employees who own their devices. 
  • Device Training: Specialized hardware and software can be a pain to get the force to adopt en masse. But, BYOD can enable employees to utilize the everyday devices that they are already comfortable using, eliminating the need for employee downtime for device training.
  • Phone/Data Plan Savings: Faced with a 15% IT budget reduction 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission decided they were paying too much for employee mobile phone service, noting that many users weren’t even using their company phones, preferring their own devices.  Implementing a BYOD policy gave employees access to agency email, calendars, contacts and tasks on their phones, monitored their data/phone minutes using mobile device management software and reimbursed them for work use. The result: the agency’s cost for phone service was slashed in half.
  • More Efficient Time in the Field: BYOD and the development of specialized applications (like San Francisco PD’s app to file reports on smartphones) can result in officers spending more time on the streets and less time in the office. BYOD gives police increased access to resources and communication when in the field, additionally giving mounted officers, cops on bikes and others mobile access they could only achieve previously by lugging around clunky ruggedized laptops.

Ready or not, BYOD is coming. Heck, it may have already arrived.

As more and more consumers get smartphones and tablets, its likely BYOD is already happening at your agency whether sanctioned or not; perhaps a detective uses his personal smartphone to check work email or maybe a crime analyst checks documents or pulls up on her iPad. Since people’s attachment to their mobile devices doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, BYOD is most certainly on its way if not already here to stay. Our advice: Don’t fight it. Leverage it. Save some dough to keep more cops on the street, and more streets safe.

Already Doing This?

Let us know how its working for you, what cost savings you’ve found, and what other hitherto tips and insights that can help fellow agencies successfully implement BYOD. Use the comments section below to share your best practices.



“Why Intelligence-Led Policing? The Answer”

This is part two of a multi-part series on Intelligence-Led Policing written by Detective Daniel Seals of the Covington, GA Police Department. Stay tuned each Thursday for a new entry.

Why Intelligence-Led Policing 

Well, because you are probably already doing it and just don’t realize it. Ask any of your veteran officers, “where are our highest crime areas?”or “who do we deal with the most?” They’ll all have answers for you, and they’ll all sound pretty similar. This is what Intelligence-Led Policing is all about though — taking the information you already have and doing something useful with it. That last part is usually the gap in most departments; doing something with it. Officers have actionable intelligence, but rarely do they put it to use or share it with other officers and command staff. There is for a multitude of reasons. For instance, officers are told; “stay in your zone/beat”, “drive around and make sure the public sees you”, “don’t get in to anything so you can answer your calls.” These are all generally good tenants of policing, but they don’t allow for an intelligence-led, focused way of policing.

Focus on High Crime Areas

If you know where your crime is generally and where it isn’t generally, then why not focus your patrols in the areas where crime is? This sounds pretty obvious, but all too often policing turns into a game of, “drive around and see if you find something while answering calls in between.” This is akin to the “spray and pray” method of firearms, where you fire your weapon multiple times in multiple directions with the assumption that you will surely hit something. We would never teach our officers to do this. We teach them to be precise and exacting on the firearms range. How about using the same precision and exacting nature in the rest of their job? Why not go to where you know the crime is and hang out there until you get a call? I guarantee your mere increased presence in these high crime areas will at the very least disrupt the criminal element in these areas. By no means am I suggesting a neglect of the other areas of your city or township, but rather a focus on the higher crime areas. This is, of course, a very elementary break down of Intelligence-Led Policing — it’s also an illustration of a starting point.

Extract Individual Information and Compile it Holistically 

Intelligence-Led Policing starts with taking all of the information your officers already have, coupling it with other local, state, and federal intelligence, adding it to the crime data you have compiled in you records, and finally, mixing it together to create an intelligence product that your entire department can use. Again, this is not far from what you are doing now, it’s just a more structured way of putting it all together and most importantly getting it out to your officers so they can use it every day, all day.

Between now and my next entry, I encourage you to make a list of all the different information sources that you currently have access to. Because in my next blog, I will describe how to compile this information, make it accessible, and actually get your officers to “buy in” to this new way of policing.

Do You Know How to Manage Facebook Privacy Settings?

Chances are that you are on Facebook. Or, if you’re not, you soon will be. After all, Facebook boasts over 400 million users across the world (Facebook Press Room) and is growing rapidly.

We all have our own reasons for joining—we want to connect with old friends, find new friends, or we give in to pressure from friends or family that are already there (Groundswell, 2008). However, too many of us join Facebook without giving much attention to our Facebook privacy settings.

A Consumer Reports survey, released yesterday, says that 52% of social network users posted “risky information” during the past year. Interestingly, the number was 56% among Facebook users. A New York Times analysis of this Consumer Reports survey says the report “inadvertently reveals that Facebook users clearly have no idea about how much they’re publicly sharing on the network.”

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Pensacola PD Reaches Out to Local Citizens

Photo by divemasterking2000 via Flickr

Just came across this great news story about CrimeReports from Fox 10 in Pensacola, Florida. Near the end a man who runs a community center comments that a map like our could harm people who live in high-crime areas. What are your thoughts?

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