Webinar presenters Deputy Chief Shon Barnes and Captain Dan Stewart answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Implementing Evidence-Based Policing: Lessons from LEADS Scholars Research. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: The LEADS program is only open to sworn personnel, I think that we heard that went right, but many professionals in law enforcement are involved in research are civilian. Do you think that there will ever come a time when civilian personnel can apply for the LEADS program?
Gary Cordner: The easy answer is yes. Some of the civilian staff that we know are pounding on that door pretty good for a while and NIJ is well aware how desirable that would be and I believe that this summer there will be a limited call you know, a limited announcement for a few non-sworn LEAD scholar position and then the hope would be that would grow to a larger size in subsequent years.
Audience Question: How do we encourage our command staff to listen to the results of evidence-based policing when they seem so resistant to changing their ways?
Dan Stewart: I’ll take that one. So I think you start with the purpose of something like a LEAD scholarship program because the LEAD scholarship program is for people who are mid-level executives, and so the goal is if you are that mid-level, you have some influence over the people above you. You have some, a lot of great influence to the people who are below you. What you have to do is you have to bring them along. Chiefs, Deputy Chiefs, their attention gets called so many different ways. You have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable and to step out and take the lead on things like evaluating software or evaluating programs, and you know, Chiefs are semi-politicians. It doesn’t hurt when you make them look good too. It doesn’t hurt when you can explain to them how a strategy that they led, in quotation marks, results in some good press for them and because you want to always be putting money in that goodwill bank.
Audience Question: Dan, there’s a question about a business intelligence specialist conversation that you just talked about. The question is: Is a business intelligence in place at a criminal intelligence analyst or crime analyst? The request goes on to say our local department calls that position a crime analyst or programmer and considered civilian as non-sworn. Can you attest to that?
Dan Stewart: So we have crime analysts that are civilian non-sworn so I looked at this as something totally different. Because what our crime analysts are doing, they’re not looking at the operation of the police department. They’re not looking at it efficiently. What are we doing with call data? What are we doing with data? How are we managing our fleet? There’s just so many things that we’re just not looking at internally. I think we always look at, “Let’s reduce crime. Let’s do things, let’s find out where the hotspots are.” I just think that there’s a lot more to it like what about you know, my thought was having an algorithm for personnel right? So some agencies, they go out and they hire, they affirm on staff analysis and then sometimes they’re leaving an algorithm that they could follow and determine how much staffing they need. With this position that I’m proposing, we would maintain that. So every year we would be able to look at our call volume and reports and all different things, fleet time. We would create our own algorithm and we would know how many investigators, how many personnel, how many people we need on the street, how many dispatchers we need? We would be able to determine that by using the data that we have instead of relying on outside. So I look at it as clearly separate in a crime analyst, which we have the civilian crime analyst.
Audience Question: As a small agency, we cannot afford a full-time technical person to do the analysis. Do you have recommendations for low or no-cost alternatives?
Shon Barnes: Yes. My agency is considered a small agency. We are authorized sworn strength of about 85 offices and we do not currently have a crime analyst. Some of the work I do myself. Some of it we have divided, and our CALEA accreditation manager because she has access to data. She does the things that she can do. Some of the other things I do, our captain is pretty talented. But in small agencies, as a leader, you have to be able to recognize talent and I guarantee you that someone in your agency even if its five sworn people that would love the additional responsibility of a new toy to play with and data analytics. One of the thing that you can do is if you know most municipalities have a sheriff’s department, as usually a little larger than you, you can partner with them to share data and start off with a simple conversation about, “Hey how can we better share data?” and grow that conversation to, “hey maybe you should buy this piece of software and we could kind of both use it.” That kind of thing which you got the relationship built but police departments have to collaborate because we’re finding it that you know bad guys are more and more inter-jurisdictional than they were in days past. So, if you’re not cooperating and communicating with your fellow agencies, you’re really missing the boat. For smaller agencies, find talent, there’s a lot of free software out there and also you have to collaborate with other agencies as well.
Dan Stewart: A lot of the software nowadays are a lot more user-friendly. So within Excel, there are things in Excel, Power Pivot, Power Map, where you can start mapping your own things just in a simple Excel program, so it’s kind of changing and it’s getting a lot of easy to start analyzing your own data.
Gary Cordner: I’ll answer briefly for the small agency. Two other possibilities, neither which is probably a total solution but might be some help. One is students. You know, perhaps college students doing an internship or something along those lines. If you got a nearby school, you could be able to set up a just kind of a rotation, so you always got one even though the actual person changes from semester to semester, that’s one option. Another one that I see work in some places is volunteers. I’m in that demographic that at least I should be retired and there’s a lot of retired people out there. Some of them have a lot of skill even data skills and they’re often looking for something to do. There are a lot of police departments that have some pretty robust volunteer programs where they use volunteers to help to do administrative things, including analytical things that otherwise they couldn’t just get done.
Audience Question: Given the significant diversity in the populations that we serve and the types of crimes that we deal with from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, how well do evidence-based practices translate from one agency to another?
Shon Barnes: I think they translate very well. What doesn’t always translate is the dosage needed to solve that problem. So you would consider the height and weight of two people that are vastly different. One may require one aspirin to relieve a headache and one may require two. So the actual treatment or strategy may remain the same. What you may have to change or adjust based on your demographics, based on your diversity or your population or the needs, is the actual dosage of whatever treatment or strategy that you may want to implement.
Audience Question: As we look to operationalize research into policies and adjusted procedures, what types of people should be involved in that discussion, so, for example, your PIO, your legal counsel, HR. Who would you recommend?
Dan Stewart: Part of my responsibility is policing and procedure. I’m fortunate that I have really talented police officers, one of them is actually a practicing attorney that works under me but we vet everything and we do everything firm. See what other departments are doing, we have a legal counsel that’s assigned to the police departments that we run everything by. We try and get as much information as we can as we’re working through policy decisions. A good example would be body-worn cameras. We implemented those several years ago and that was a huge deal. We went back and forth with them. FLP(?), our collective bargaining agency per unit. So, really everything. You want to uncover every stone as you are making policy decisions and working through this thing.
Christina: I think it does. The short answer is involve as many as departments as you can because as you just said, your PIO is going to look at things a little differently than your legal person and your legal person is going to look at it differently than maybe your operations person. I think you’ve covered it.
Shon Barnes: I’ll just add one last piece to that is that you must consider your community as a part of your agency. They’re your business partners and quite frankly, a slot of the strategies that we do, they are heavily enforced and they do work but you must also include your community input before you begin to implement your strategy as a matter of your community engagement strategy.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Implementing Evidence-Based Policing: Lessons from LEADS Scholars Research.