Predictive Policing: What Can We Learn from Wal-Mart and Amazon about Fighting Crime in a Recession?
In the current economic climate, police departments are being asked to do more with less. In some localities, significant budget reductions are requiring police managers and command staff to consider reductions in the retention of sworn personnel.
Personnel costs represent the single largest budget line item in most public safety organizations. The ability to use this resource more efficiently has become absolutely essential to police managers under current budgetary restrictions.
Now, new tools designed to increase the effective use of police resources could make every agency more efficient, regardless of the availability of resources. As these new budgetary restraints and limitations are faced, the question to ask with more urgency is “Why just count crime when you can anticipate, prevent, and respond more effectively?”
Predictive policing allows command staff and police managers to leverage advanced analytics in support of meaningful, information-based tactics, strategy, and policy decisions in the applied public safety environment. As the law enforcement community increasingly…
Unsure of what was expected, I looked for key sections or excerpts that might appeal to the civilian public. One of the selections discussed why cops fail to fit-in with the general civilian population.
I described the enticement of a fringe lifestyle, and the intoxicating draw of society’s margins. Their blank stares quickened my heartbeat and signaled that this first attempt by our community library to feature local authors was going south quickly.
Retooling the chronology of the presentation, I did as any experienced public speaker and supervisor of public servants would do. I lifted the microphone just under my mouth, lowered my voice and howled, “I’m a Sheepdog!”
Since that too did not go well, I launched into an explanation of the significance for a common cop term, “Don’t be sheep.” I’d like to share the same with you, sans the howling.
The police tradition is steeped in symbolism and imagery helping solidify officer ideology and public comprehension. Cops use the term “Sheepdog” to describe their position and role in society. It goes something like this;
The majority of our population is good, honest people who would never intentionally harm another without provocation. They usually flock together and travel in groups to create unique cliques, cultures and societies. Sheep are not genetically predisposed for violence, but inherently desire social clustering.
Sheep desire belonging that involves homogeneity, or a sense of similarity. People tend to draw to those they share things in common. Band members are a unique clique in high school, distance runners are a special culture of athletes, and the free society we enjoy in America allows us to participate in activities such as music and athletics.
Humanity has survived thanks to the innate desire of individuals for banding together. Clustering creates cultures contributing to the proliferation of our species. Though early humans divided as some preferred hunting, while others chose the path of gathering, it was the bond of similarity allowing both cliques to succeed.
People are good, and enjoy the pleasant company of respectfully interacting with others.
The wolves in our society represent the psychopathic victimizers, openly preying upon the peace-seeking sheep. They hunt, stalk and attack because it is their delight and pre-disposition to deliver chaos despite the effect on the larger community of sheep.
Operating in either small packs or as singularly motivated individuals, the wolf has no concern for the well-being or life’s enjoyment shared by others. They do not survive by co-existing within the flock, nor do they respect the social mores, traditions, or values of the flock.
They exist to unsettle, frighten, injure, and kill the sheep. The sheep is defenseless against the direct motivated attack of the wolf. Yet the sheep never lose their ability to combine a collective presence for the overarching benefit of the whole. Even in times of senseless violence.
The sheepdog is a social creature. They are also naturally inclined towards violent attack if provoked. The sheepdog loyally protects the herd, but does not live amongst them. There maintains a separation between the herd and the dog. Sheep are easily disconcerted by the sheepdog’s presence, yet they understand the dog’s presence will not cause harm.
Remaining in the fringe, the sheepdog is poised to respond to the threat or attack by the wolf. When the lone or pack wolves arrive, the sheep cling to each other with an assurance the sheepdog will arrive to save them.
Appearing from the gap, the sheepdog, a usually docile character, becomes aggressive and committed to the safety of the flock. The sheepdog will fight, injure, kill and even sacrifice its own life for the safety of the flock. Even to save just one sheep.
Thwarting the violent assault from a motivated offender, the sheepdog remains unwelcomed and removes itself from the society of the herd. Though selflessly interjected into the fray of violence, there is no expectation of reward, acceptance or inclusion.
Personal sacrifice, hunting the hunters, and maintaining social harmony are the sheepdog’s satisfiers. Exclusion, solitude and misunderstanding are the sheepdog’s sacrifices. The fringe is where the sheepdog remains without even a howl; for that is their duty.
Don’t Be Sheep
If you hear, say or use the term, “Don’t be sheep,” then you know it does not refer to wearing a wool sweater. This means the warrior mindset requires an objective separation from the collective harmony of society to see the coming threats. This means you must always be prepared to fight the wolf no matter how, when or where it appears. This means even after you’ve laid the wolf or yourself down in the line of duty, the fringe is where you’ll return.
Had my presentation occurred prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, I believe the audience would have remained perplexed. That night, that event and that explanation prompted some to applaud, while the others; you guessed it. Howled!!
Editor’s NOTE: In a city with a high propensity for violent crime, do you think fixing windows and erasing graffiti is the solution? Is The broken windows theory a crime fighting strategy or a quality of life improvement plan? Either way, something’s got to give.
May 5, 2013 in Crime, Crime Prevention, Featured, Posts by Jean Reynolds
In January, Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy announced that 200 police officers were going to be reassigned to patrol work. Two weeks later, McCarthy had more news for Chicago residents:
Focusing on the little things
He is proposing an ordinance to authorize arrests for unpaid tickets for public urination, public consumption of alcohol, and gambling—“the three top complaints,” he said, from Chicago residents.
“Fixing the little things prevents the bigger things,” said McCarthy, a longtime advocate of the “broken windows” approach to fighting crime. “Broken windows” is the brainchild of social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.
The theory behind it
They claimed that unrepaired windows, litter, and other signs of neighborhood decay constitute an announcement that a neighborhood has stopped taking responsibility for the quality of life in its public spaces. The next step is for responsible citizens to start moving out—and for lawbreakers to move in.
Executive Fellows at the Police Foundation are current or retired executive-level members of criminal justice organizations whose knowledge, experience and skills help advance the Foundation’s mission. They serve as members of the President’s Practitioner Advisory Board to help ensure the Foundation is grounded in a comprehensive understanding the practical needs of law enforcement organizations.
In addition, executive fellows serve as the Foundation’s regional representatives in national and international settings. Executive Fellows work on specific projects, represent the Foundation in meetings and conferences, and develop substantive thought pieces about the pressing issues facing policing. They serve for terms determined by the Foundation’s president.
Let’s explore why it is so hard to “break up” from a job you love and love to not love. before beginning, I was approached by a lady Saturday night while monitoring a downtown nightclub crowd following the Ambrosia Mardi Gras parade. She is not associated with law enforcement and I am not sure who she is.
She was kind enough to share having read my previous LET article entitled, “I Quit!”. She emphasized that she read the whole thing. I was curious if she meant it was interesting, or long! Either way, it was a kind gesture. If she is reading this; thank you and owe this inspiration to you.
I realized then, that in addition to the many e-mails I receive from all of you in support of our cultural revolution, these principles apply to everyone. I write to encourage sincere public servants, but also know that cultures exist in all aspects of society.
Who knows, we may ignite a “change” reaction in another industry while recreating ours. I believe dedicated professionals are ready for a change, and desire a singular vision directing their energy. I believe “we” are the soldiers of evolution, and in our generation of service, a n
Public safety organizational success is hard to define. There are numerous factors contributing to public safety. Social policy, correctional policy, the economy, educational opportunities, and the job market can all have an impact.
The typical method of measuring success is establishing goals and working to meet those goals. The overall goal should be the highest possible levels of public safety. This can only be accomplished if all members of an organization are committed to success.
Public Safety Leadership
Noble goals such as increasing public safety are replaced by attaining statistical performance standards and compliance with policies. Public safety leadership typically identifies the method to achieve public safety and dictates the method it will be accomplished to the followers in the organization.
The followers’ success is based on achieving the prescribed standards. If public safety is not increased, the followers can claim success while the organization as a whole has failed. Organizational goals should be shared and this requires a higher level of support than mere compliance.
Public safety leadership has been dominated by the transactional leadership theory. Transactional leadership is limited by the ability of the leader to administer or withhold an incentive in exchange for compliance.
Higher salary, promotion, and awards are given in exchange for a predetermined set of goals. Punishments are used for failing to meet the assigned goals. This method is very effective in attaining expected outcomes but often fails to achieve excellence.
An example is the assignment of a performance standard of two contacts per hour while working DWI enforcement. An officer can contact two motorists for equipment violations in just a few minutes. The officer can do nothing else and still meet the assigned goal while the real goal is to reduce the destruction of property, injuries, and fatalities caused by impaired drivers.
An officer who buys in to the overall goal may be more proactive in identifying effective methods of removing impaired drivers such as focusing on moving violations and or continuing to make contacts beyond the minimum required.
Corporate entities/ profit based businesses are highly competitive. They require the most effective leadership methods to be successful. Success is much easier to identify in private enterprise. A successful organization will continue to exist while others are eliminated. Public safety agencies do not have competition and therefore are not subject to replacement.
Significant research suggests transformational leadership is the most effective (Chi, Chung, & Tsai, 2011; Dess & Picken, 2000; Friedman, 2004; Hirtz, Murray, & Riordan, 2007; Liu, Siu, & Shi, 2010; Yang, 2012). Northouse (2007) defined transformational leadership as, “The process whereby a person engages with others and creates a connection that raises the level of motivation and morality in both the leader and the follower”.
Members of an organization should accomplish shared goals because they support them versus fear of the consequences of failing to meet a performance standard.
Transformational leadership requires an elimination of authoritarian and hierarchical dominance. If a leader’s only source of power is a position, he is weak when compared with the leader who gains the support of followers and empowers them to be successful.
Public safety members are more educated and professional than ever before and desire to contribute to the success of an organization far beyond minimal compliance.
How to Implement Transformational Leadership in Public Safety
The concepts of transformational leadership are not new. They have been the subject of countless window to window patrol car conversations. A challenge to transformational leadership is what works in corporate America will not work in paramilitary public safety organizations.
Studies of military and governmental organizations support the implementation of transformational leadership (Andreescu & Vito, 2010; Deluga, 1990; Kendrick, 2011; Silvestri, 2007; Stricker & Rock, 1998; Tucci, 2008; Yardley & Neal, 2007). The US military is adopting transformational leadership theory in an effort to maintain combat effectiveness. If an organization claims to be paramilitary, it should follow suit.
One agency has taken significant steps to implement transformational leadership theory concepts. The Louisiana State Police has developed a curriculum for leadership training for all current and potential leaders.
The curriculum is based on the relational leadership model and highlights the fact that every member of an organization is a leader. The training treats leadership as a process which includes followers as active participants in decision-making to obtain support beyond compliance.
Words foreign to strict hierarchy and positional based leadership are used such as inclusiveness and empowerment. These concepts are consistent with transformational leadership theory and are a far cry from the typical administrative/management type training of the past.
The training is consistent with best practices identified for private, public safety, and military organizations. The leadership training has rightfully garnered the attention of other agencies and will hopefully become a model program for all public safety agencies.
About the Author:
Wayne “Steve” Thompson, PhD served in the US Army from 1996 -2002. He has been a Louisiana State Trooper Since 2002 and have served in uniform patrol, plain clothes, and SWAT. Steve has a BA from Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree from Troy University of Alabama in Criminal Justice, abd a PhD in Criminal Justice from Capella University in Minnesota. Steve has been teaching at the college level since 2008 at the graduate and undergraduate level.
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