Community Policing & Making It A Reality In Your City – May 2019 Webinar
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Please Note: The views expressed herein are those of the presenter; they do not necessarily reflect the views of LEFTA Systems.
“Good afternoon folks, I’m so glad you could join us today and good evening to international listeners. Let’s begin the LEFTA Systems champagne edition of our webinar series. And as a way of introduction, let me just introduce myself. My name is Matt Jarvis and I am a retired law enforcement sergeant at LEO from, an agency in Nebraska, Bellevue Nebraska. And I’m also a retired firefighter from the same city and I’m also a paramedic. So, I’ve done a lot in public service and we are delighted to have you attending our webinar series.
Today we’re going to talk about community policing. We’re going to talk about the history, what’s happening now and then we’re going to talk about the direction that I think it might be headed in the future. Now, this is an interactive webinar. If you’ll notice on your bar there’s a chat feature. You can just send me a chat, you want to ask a question, you have a comment, I can see that, you just send it to me. And if it’s something I can address right away I will or if it’s a question I may hold it until the end. And then we can do questions, Q&A at the very end. Now, community policing is really, it’s a theory. But it’s also been wrapped in a government program. So, there’s a lot to it and a lot that we can benefit from it, but there are also some hidden pits and falls we are going to talk about.
I began my career in law enforcement, I’m retired 33 years working in a cruiser. But I spent probably half of my career working exclusively in community policing. When it came out, my agency in the early ’90s I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree. And my capstone project was on community policing. And I submitted that to my administration at that time, I was working, supervising the undercover drug operations. So, I was having a great time and I was doing crime fighting. When I submitted the paper to my command staff within two weeks I was organizing, running, and designing our community policing response. So it was one of those things where: What have you done? But it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me in my career.
Now, again this is interactive. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask. Okay, now I think it’s important for us to note that community policing is just not an American phenomenon. Community policing is not done in a bubble, it’s not done in a glass jar, it’s really it’s worldwide. There are societies: Canada, Israel, Italy, France, Germany. As a matter of fact, as part of one of my degrees I went to Israel and spent some time working with their homeland security staff. Part of that was spent at the police station in Tel Aviv. And we were able to get to know some of the police officers and the chief of police. And it was obvious from the start that they practiced community policing. Now, it’s a national police organization, so, they’re nationwide. But they were still working at the neighborhood level. So it was interesting to see how it was done in another country. But the threats they’re dealing with are new and novel. Just like we are they’re dealing with terrorism, cybercrimes and those types of things that require a different, even a nuanced approach to crime fighting and preventive measures. Now, in Europe they’re really big on combating or reducing any of the traditional, they’re being on transparency. And the citizens there want to know what’s going on there. They want their police officers to stop acting as an occupation force in a paramilitary style. And I won’t touch on that today about how our police officers today sometimes appear to be in that mode.
One of my sons is a police officer. And then when I see him in his vest, it’s the traditional garb that officers wear nowadays, we have a spirited discussion on perceptions are real to people and how it appears. But that’s something for a different webinar some other time in the future. Now, problem we’re in in policing has been on the radar scope in American law enforcement officially, I would say, for over 30 years. We’ve been encouraged to adopt the concept of community-oriented policing or problem-oriented policing is really where it started and, for about 30 years. It’s not new, it’s not even creative actually, to the actual officer in the trenches. You can see in this photograph and you might remember the movie, The Untouchables with Kevin Costner. This is Sean Connery when they meet on the bridge. And the discussion was a pure community policing dialogue. It was obvious that the officer in uniform knew his community, he wasn’t afraid of anybody. And he knew intuitively what Kevin Costner, even though he didn’t know him he knew intuitively what his intentions were. If you remember this scene, this is where he touches his gun and says: Hey, why the mohaska? Which is gang slang for firearm. So, it’s something that’s not new and innovative it’s just a concept that we’re trying’ to get back to.
We lost our way in the beginning in community policing some time mid-century. And it was around the time when police officers started using a patrol car instead of walking a beat. And what’s happened is the police officer was then shrouded. He was in a bubble working where nobody wanted to come up and talk to you where I’m in that police car, I’m segregated from the community and I have to go from point A to point B as fast as I can and that means that I can’t really talk to you. So, people became disenfranchised with talking, just shooting the breeze with a police officer. And that’s when really, kind of our trouble really started. There is no shortage of people who have been writing about how problem-oriented policing and community-policing has developed. If you’ve been at all involved in it you know some of the names, Robert Trojanowicz who writes a great many books on community policings for the college level. I am a college professor and I have used his books, they’re wonderful, authoritative documents on how police departments should do community policing.
We’ve had Jane Jacobs, her great work called: The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Everybody knows who Orlando Winfield Wilson is, O.W. Wilson and his concepts in the early ’50s, which was actually the forerunner of community policing. My favorite guy, Oscar Newman, he wrote a work called: Defensible Space and that’s kind of where we get a lot of our problem solving concepts from our perception which we’ll talk about in just a minute. He had a seminal work on the apartment complex in St. Louis called: Pruitt-Igoe a high-rise which eventually was knocked down and made into a park because of the way that the whole system was developed, was developed to enhance crime instead of decrease it. And then who can forget James Q. Wilson and George Kelling’s article in the 1982 edition of the, March ’82 Atlantic Monthly called: Broken Windows Theory?
Now that, we’ve all heard of that but I’m not sure if you’ve heard exactly what happened with that. One of the, one of the, the whole idea behind the broken windows theory is that criminals tend to, if you have an area that looks like nobody cares about it, the yards aren’t mowed, the windows are broken and the houses are not painted, dirty cars, cars on blocks. That tends to tell a criminal that the social fabric in that area has declined, and people they become inoculated against crime. And they won’t even call it in. Well, in this actual article they, the authors placed one car in a borough in New York and one in a sub-division in Palo Alto, California. And within minutes of walking away from the car in New York it was vandalized and within the day it was stripped down to nothing. The car in Palo Alto which was in a different neighborhood economically and it was diverse completely from the first one that car was not touched. In fact, they had to go and they broke a window. And then after they broke a window within a week it was destroyed as well. But that broken window’s what caused that. So, that’s where their theory came from. And that’s where a lot of our problem oriented policing thoughts and processes go to: How do we prevent that crime from occurring?
One of the ways is to reduce the opportunity for the criminal to take, to apply his trade. And, of course, community policing goes all the way back to Sir Robert Peel in England who started in the 1800s the first, official, recognized professional police force. And part of his whole idea was that quote: “The police are the public and the public are the police.” In other words, we are no better as law enforcement officers than the people we serve and we have to remember that.
So, what happens in the early ’90s we had some funding that came out from the Department of Justice, the COPS office, Community Oriented Policing. You know, I remember when it was C-O-P-P-S, Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving. But now it’s Community Oriented Policing Services. And it gained immediately, gained ground with administers. And I’m sure we all know why. The only problem was the education and the commitment to do what the program was designed to do really wasn’t there. It didn’t follow the excitement of what was going on. What had happened was, there was a very strong revenue of money, stream of money came out. And when you have money there’s a lot of strict government requirements that agencies sometimes weren’t aware of. For instance, I did the funding work for all of my agencies, wrote the grants, did all the bean counting. And one of the things up front that we realized was that we could get money to pay for officers’ salaries and benefits for FTEs they call them, for full time equivalents. Well, the catch was at the end of three years that money went dry and then the agency had to absorb those officers into the manpower pool. They could not fire them. And they couldn’t fire anybody else so that they could bring them in. So, there was money there but there were restrictions on how it could be used. And that money was also available for programs: D.A.R.E, great. That’s where that money came from and eventually it ran out. But it again at the bottom, was a healthy adventure of federal funding and there was lot of money there.
Now, I wanted to talk a little bit about what community policing is not. I wanted to talk about that first and then what it is. But in, I live in Nebraska and the Lincoln Police Department, the former Chief Tom Casady on their website they had posted this: “Community policing is perhaps “the most misunderstood and frequently abused theme “in police management during this decade.” That’s a very powerful statement for a chief of police to make. And Lincoln is a large agency, hundreds of officers. The town itself is almost 300,000. “In the past few years it has become fashionable “for police agencies to initiate community policing, “often with little notion of what that phrase means.” And “Indeed all manner of organizational tinkering “has been labeled community policing.” Now, I was fortunate where I was employed and let me be honest with you, I submitted my community or my problem-oriented policing capstone work to my administration I guess, I don’t want to say as a joke, but I didn’t think they would take it seriously. At that time, to my horror my captain knew everything about it. I was very impressed that he was up to speed on this. And again, like I say, originally I went into the unit I was like every other police officer, this is something we’re not going to do, it’s going to be gone in a while: Why are you making me do it? But I quickly realized it was the future of police work. And I really, really enjoyed what I was doing.
So, all the definitions of community policing include some degree of these concepts: There’s partnering in the community, that’s probably the cornerstone or the bedrock of community policing. It’s us, as police officers, we are accustomed to telling the citizens what their problems are. And then we fix those problems. They may not exist for the citizen though. Maybe we think that they’re having a problem with car thefts, thefts from automobiles in their neighborhood but really what they’re concerned about are speeders. So, we’re fixing the wrong problem.
We’re addressing safety concerns, quality of life issues. That’s a buzz phrase that’s thrown around a lot but actually perception is reality. If people do not feel safe where they’re at, they’re not safe where they’re at. Problem solving’s a big cornerstone. We’re celebrating good times and we’re managing a crisis. And one of the nice things about community policing is we identify a crisis before it occurs and then we manage how we respond to it. We’re not just doing reactive police work, we’re actually driving how the whole thing plays out. Information sharing. Leadership change, which is in my opinion probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks and issues, if you wanted to get a good community policing response we have to change leadership. We’ll talk about that in just a minute.
Accountability and transparency, that’s huge. We want to know who’s responsible, good and the bad for what went on. Trust building. I think lately police departments have been taking a big hit in the trust area. I say that, but still I saw an article the other day where 85% of the country still thinks that all police officers are trustworthy and above reproach. So, we need to work on that 15%. What it is, here is the definition that comes from the U.S. Department of Justice. “Community policing is, in essence, a collaboration.” Which is to get that cooperation word in there. Between the police and the community identifying and solving community problems.
So, the DOJ even says, they’re recognizing that it’s a partnership that solves problems in the community. Now, let me show you this one. This is from the COPS office: Community policing, decision making process. It’s more open than traditional policing, so we would get the transparency, we get the problem solving. The community is a full partner. So, we have to do it together. The police can’t solve your problems but we can help you solve your problems. It’s a mechanism for readily sharing information on crime and social disorder and then problems with police operations within the community. Now, the interesting thing for me to note is that community policing, the COPS office is under the aegis of the DOJ but they don’t have the same definition for community policing. Ask the federal government. It’s just like trying to find the definition for terrorism, there’s 27 branches or 27 or more in Homeland Security and there are 27 different definitions for terrorism.
Now, community policing is not a program. A program is something that any good cop can outlast. The chief comes up with this new program, we’ll just wear it out, he’ll get tired, she’ll get tired, she’ll forget about it and then we can go back to the way we were doing things. It’s that, flavor of the month thing. He’ll forget about it then we can go back to what we were doing. But that’s not what community policing is. It’s actually how we should be conducting our business day-to-day operations. Everything should be done along the community policing lines. It’s not a specific department in an agency although our agency started off with the COPS office. And in time it blossomed or developed into the way that the agency officers, that’s how they did their job every day.
If you were to go to my agency now and say and ask a cruiser officer: “Hey, do you practice community policing?” That officer would tell you, I don’t know, I suppose because it’s not something that we have to tell them to do, it’s just part of their day-to-day operation. These are some of the things that are not community policing: Crime-free multi-housing. I’m sure some of you practice that in your jurisdictions. It’s not Citizens Police Academy, it’s not CPTED which is crime prevention through environmental design, something I dearly love. It’s not Neighborhood Watch or D.A.R.E. It’s not Shop With a Cop or Crime Stoppers. It’s not SROs or gun buy backs. And it’s not a customer service game. Police work, let me just address this last one really quick, separately. In my opinion, police work is not about customer service. If it was customer service we wouldn’t be getting in gun fights with people. Customer service is not what we are. What we are is, we want to be respectful and treat everybody as fair as possible. And that blends into a customer service mindset. But the customer is not always right in our game. Now, I say that community policing is not any of these programs but I’ll tell you that it is every one of these programs. A good community policing response leverages everything that these programs have and more to get their job done, to cooperate with the citizens, to do problem solving, share information, reduce crime and the occurrence of crime and also the fear of crime. All of this is designed to do that. But it’s a concept, it’s not a program. And these programs are used to make that end result.
Some benefits of the construction of the community include: Increased safety, real or imagined. If people fear for their lives then they are in danger whether it’s true or not. There’s a reduction in calls for service. We have a co-active response to community concerns. It’s not just me. I can’t stop speeders in your neighborhood. There’s nothing I can do to prevent that. I can park my cruiser there for a half an hour but once I leave the speeders come back. So, that’s a problem we have to address outside of law enforcement. We have better flow of information back and forth between the community and within the department. I can’t tell you how many times I would get phone calls or on the street contact with people who started to give me information about things going on in the city that I wouldn’t have gotten before because we were building a trust mode. Information sharing, it was wonderful. And if it’s done properly you end up with a more vibrant and responsive community government. Whoa, that’s not socialism or a new world order type of thing. Community government is just a next step in community policing where the parks department and the street department become more responsive to what this community wants, what citizens need. You know, maybe they’re concerned with mowing the grass in a park but the citizens really want the gravel swept up off the roadway from the wintertime. So, that’s what community government is about.
Now, what is changing? Discoverpolicing.org has community policing involving three components. It’s a pretty good article. Developing community partnerships, engaging in problem solving and implementing community policing organizational features. We’re going to talk briefly about all of these. But let’s look at some of the key components in our dynamic, ever-changing society. Partnerships are the very definition of community policing and for developing community partnerships. We talk about police foundations. Police foundations are non-profits. And they’re designed to help police departments buy gear, schwag, special needs they might have. In one of the sheriff’s office near where I live in Nebraska sheriff’s department was able to use a non-profit, a police foundation to buy an MRAP for their SWAT team. So, there’s money that can be generated outside of the police budget to be able to supplant, supplement, add-to, some of the things, requirements that the police department needs. And this is an effective way to bridge those funding gaps. So, instead of buying a vest, I can’t buy a vest for everybody this year because I don’t have the money in the budget. We could maybe get a police foundation to come up with that money and replace those vests after 10 years of use. And there are a lot of police foundations out there. Over 250 and they’re backed by the National Police Foundation. So, if you’ve never thought about it and if you’ve never heard about it, it’s a great way to generate and it’s also a great way to work in the community because now you have a board of people who like law enforcement and are willing to help raise money for programs and gear.
Actually, the police foundations came around big in the economic crisis of 2008 when administrators, you know, that soon realized how fragile our funding and budgets were. They looked for other revenue streams and the foundations really helped them out. We and the community partnerships, we can partner with the federal government. Now, we can partner with the federal government on money, we can do it like on the bottom a full or mini-grant funding where we get full funding for something: Officers, cruisers, ammunition, whatever we need. Or we can do mini-grant funding, usually done at the state level though where we’re going to do a community policing survey. So, we need money to get surveys developed, written and distributed. So, we can get money that way, but a lot of federal level assistance is coming in through in-kind types of things where we have the cooperation on the fugitive sex offender task forces where the local agencies will work together with the federal agency. And we have a lot of those task forces in Nebraska. Overtime and equipment. The agency I work with has two officers permanently assigned to the DEA for doing drug work. And they are, their salary and all of their gear is funded completely by the DEA. So, we supply the body, the DEA pays for everything else. So there is federal level assistance out there. Sometimes it takes a little bit to get at forfeiture money, that’s really kind of been tightened up lately because we were, you know, we do something bad usually somebody takes it away from us. And I think the courts have said we went overboard on the federal forfeitures a little bit and tightened up what we could forfeit. But there’s money out there to be had. You know, Camden, New Jersey laid off almost half of its police force in 2011. And they used forfeiture funds to house a multi-layered response to a crime and that included, in order to use forfeiture money in that way you have to show the federal government that you’re partnering with other agencies.
So Camden, New Jersey partnered with the FBI, the DEA, U.S. Marshalls and the New Jersey State Police and the county prosecutors. They’re all housed at one place and their focus is on working major crimes in the Camden area. So, it worked out well. If you can plan it and get it together you can really make it happen if you get the federal government involved. Community partnerships with university, colleges and other researchers. Which is, you know, police departments are living laboratories but they’re not always able to or capable of compiling all that volume of data they collect. And, you know, on the other end, to get meaningful information out of it, in order to use for crime fighting, crime suppression. Less than 10% of police agencies have some type of collaboration with higher education. Which is, to me, it’s hard to understand because a lot of the police officers are professors, they’re adjunct or full professors in the university but they’re not leveraging that institution to help their agency get things done. Now, I’m not sure if it’s reluctance on the institution’s part or if the police officers just aren’t understanding that that can be very helpful for the agencies. You can use universities for recruiting educated hires, you can use that for college interns to help out, unpaid interns during the summer time. We can use that for grant writers.
There are, grants sometimes are difficult to write. And if you don’t get the wording proper you don’t get the grant. So, grant writers that’s something you can get from a university. They’ve been writing grants the entire time so, they know how to write them. They can help you develop community surveys. And then you can exploit their research capabilities. You get them to do the numbers for you, get them to do the bean counting to help you identify trends. It’s not really Compstat or Uniform Crime Report or NIBRS. Those usually focus on major crimes. You could, I suppose run Compstat so that you can find out what’s the four way intersection a my city where most of the accidents occur noon to five o’clock. You probably could make it do that. But what would be better if you could get a college intern to help you pour through all the reports and all the accident reports and then pull that information out for you. And then you can apply your community policing problem solving to reduce those accidents at that intersection.
Now, teaching police departments, I put that in here. And that’s an interesting concept I’ve been researching. Teaching police departments, that was developed, oh, maybe 10 years ago by the former Chief of Providence Rhode Island named Dean Essermen. I’ve talked to Chief Esserman here recently last week. It’s yeah, the whole concept is developed around teaching hospitals where you have a hospital that’s associated with a university and they work in cooperation to turn out the best medical professionals they can. A teaching police department again, is associated with a college, some type of a hiring program. And the idea is that we’re going to teach everybody the proper way, the best methods in order to come to a resolution for a crime problem. So, it’s walking still, the concept is walking. But the federal government enjoys it, they’re funding it. But it’s an idea that may have some impact later on, teaching police departments. Community partnerships, private security, I just said that and every police officer in here just closed their eyes or rolled their eyes. We have as police officers, we have a laddered society and private security is on the bottom rung of that ladder which is unfortunate, I think. I’ve always used private security to help me in my job. I work midnights many, many, I always tell everybody midnights, is in a cruiser is the front seat to the greatest show on earth. But I always used security, that was free help. They had my cell phone, they call the police department say, hey we’re looking for this guy. I have another set of eyes out there now watching for them. It’s a great resource but we just don’t like to use it because we, you know, we’re the cops, they’re not. So, that’s a mindset that we have to change. We can use non-sworn patrols, Neighborhood Watch, that program we can use that or volunteer groups. I have a Neighborhood Watch in my subdivision. And they do patrols on occasion. They’ve asked me to help put them together and I’ve given them some suggestions. But I don’t work midnights anymore so, I don’t go out at night.
At any rate we use that and the sheriff’s office uses the Neighborhood Watch patrol group to just patrol the area and call in if they see anything. Another set of eyes for free. But you have to have purposeful partnering with these folks you just can’t brush them off. You have to really pay attention to what they’re doing and really engage them in what’s going on. They become part of the resolution, they become your partner, in essence. You share information, meaningful. I do the Neighborhood Watch groups for my sheriff’s agent, I’m the point of contact. And when I go to the meetings, I bring along my roll call or my call summary and I’m calling them probably once a week just to make sure everything’s okay. Now, here’s one that has gotten a lot of discussion. You have sworn police officers are working off-duty security. That they’re nice for several reasons because they bring their training and their equipment when they go on their off-duty security. Some agencies allow them to do it in the police uniforms some allow them to take their cruiser with them to the off-duty. But the liability for the agency is enormous. If the officer were to get hurt working off-duty that’s workman’s comp for the city. So there’s a lot of things to give and play here. But sworn officer’s a plus. If I work for a hotel and I need a security guard I can probably buy a couple of private sector security for what it would cost me to hire a uniformed police officer. So all those things come into play. Prevention-focused policing.
Now, here’s where we’re talking about we’re trying to prevent crime. We want to be able to say, I want to be able to reduce the occurrence of crime. Is it wrong to put crime on a move? You’re never going to stop crime, it’s impossible, there will always be crime. So, prevention really talks about moving crime and is that wrong? No, it is not wrong. Because whenever you put crime on the move you make it easier to spot. So, prevention focused policing is like problem solving in a way, you’re trying to get to the root cause of the problem and trying’ to reduce it, minimize it or eliminate it. This prevention focus allows the officers to become stakeholders in their community. It’s no longer, I’m kind of like the lord and master in my cruiser, my horse and I just drive around drinking coffee and watching everybody. I actually now own this place, it’s my responsibility to make sure I can reduce crime and make everybody feel as safe as possible. Here is problem finding, just as important as problem solving. So, we talked about that a little bit ago. What intersections have the most accidents, where’s the most shop lifting? Who has the most traffic problems in neighborhoods? You know, what are the kids doing during the summer months? Years ago when they started that basketball, that nighttime basketball or whatever, midnight basketball we all made fun of that but that turned out to be a really, really good program. It really kept kids occupied. How do you keep their streets clean? Who mows the yards when they’re overgrown? That’s traditionally not police work isn’t it? Police work is crime fighting. But we’re telling police officers, we want you to get involved in things that aren’t traditional police work. So, we talk about overgrown yards. I’ve mowed a few yards as a, in a community policing response. But you got to balance this with crime fighting.
And I’ll talk in a minute about that real briefly but police officers are not crime fighters, really. They’re ordinance or order maintenance. Crime fighting is not something we do a lot of anymore. And I did a I did a work for my sheriff’s office where I took everybody’s call summary for everybody and I did it for six months, for every police officer for six months, they work 12 hour shift. And I crunched all the numbers down and as it turned out you would ask them: How much time during the day is spent on responding to calls and making arrests? Well, everybody was certain that it was at least half or more of the time. So, they thought they were spending six to eight hours doing police work, responding to calls and, you know, taking names and things. As it turned out, they were spending less than two hours a day, every day doing what they referred to as: Crime fighting. So, the rest of the time was uncommitted patrol. And that’s the time that we need to fill with prevention focused policing.
Now, to understand: When do I need to get involved in problem solving as a law enforcement officer? It’s very simple. If you go to the same place for the same problem two or more times whatever it is, it’s not a police problem anymore. It’s not that the police need to deal with it, something else is occurring that you can fix or try to mitigate so that you’ll stop going back. Whether it’s a domestic violence call you go to every Saturday night. Everybody knows this house, they know it’s our frequent flyers but we need to fix why that occurs. Maybe it’s an elderly person who’s always falling down, we always are going there. If you go there twice, it’s no longer a police problem, we need to get family involved or something. You got a bar that’s a nighttime terror. It’s not a police issue, we got to figure it out. That’s for the Major.
How do I know when I need to start solving things? Two or more times in the same place for the same problem, you’re wasting your time. Now you should start, you should start looking at the cause and try to resolve that. Problem solving. The trends in social media technology are huge. Police officers that are hired today and that generation they’re in, they’re digital natives. They’re accustomed to doing things virtually. You get a guy like me, I am but I am also accustomed to reading a book and those kind of things. But these folks are really, really tied into social media and technology. And recent police executive research form revealed that whenever, when they did their survey a hundred percent of the agencies are using websites. And then Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn in the order most frequently used to less is what the agencies are using. We’re not leveraging the social media technology that we could. We’ve got to get ahead of that. It can be used in disseminating messages. LAPD uses social media, they help guide operations during major events like NBA All Star games and Stanley Cup playoffs. They post messages that incur law-abiding behaviors. And then they watch the responses or watch social media and then they can deploy resources by looking about what’s going on and keeping tabs. But technology can build and erode trusts. Citizen journalists, strong social opinions immediately without any fact checking or anything that can occur to them if they’re reporting it improperly. And videos, they don’t always accurately portray what’s going on. I mean, you’ve seen a body cam video you’re looking at and it looks horrible but you’re not seeing the entire, you’re seeing a one-dimensional view. And then also videos can cause problems. If you remember Ferguson, how that had far-reaching issues for law enforcement everywhere.
So, technology can help us, but it can also hurt us. We need to stay ahead of the trend on this issue. Now, policeone.com asked several agencies forecasting major law enforcement agencies’ changes in 2019. Communications technology and connecting to the public is one of them. Social media dashboards integrated into the CAD system in 911. That way that can watch trending events that are occurring in real-time. Next generation 911. This is where we’re talking about my agency my county does this now. They do text messaging from citizens. They’re not at the point yet but they’ll be able to do photos and videos later on where if I’m having a problem I don’t need to call I can just text you. And then they also have text back capabilities. And we see that now in weather alerts. Artificial intelligence for 911 is one of the forecasted major changes that community policing can leverage. AI for 911 would give you a search engine where you can get quicker information, a more reliable query. And then FirstNet, I’m involved in this. FirstNet is a First Responder Network Authority, AT&T does this. I saw this at the October IACP conference in Orlando. They had a huge booth out and they were really talking about this. But I’d had it for quite a while. Now, FirstNet is something that you can put on your phone through AT&T. And, first of all, yeah you can only get it if you’re law enforcement or public safety. You know, fire, rescue, law enforcement. And then secondly, it’s, virtually it’s very cheap. Your phone bill goes down a lot when you go to FirstNet because they’re really trying’ to get police officers and firefighters onto this network. Like what happened in the Boston bombing, they were having problems with officers getting through on the phone because the cell towers were just jammed. Well, if you have a Motorola radio and you press that orange button on top, you get what’s called a ruthless interrupt, anybody who’s talking it shuts everybody down, it overrides everything, it’s a panic button.
Well, with FirstNet, same thing there. When you make a call and you’ve got FirstNet it preempts everybody else so it gets you on. So, it’s a pretty good setup. Now, let’s talk about this. Police presence does not deter crime. We already talked about officers spending too much, spending time on calls that are flexible and unfocused patrol. But this police presence does not deter crime, shouldn’t, you should not find this a surprise. But some people do. But let’s, this goes back to a study done in Kansas City, Missouri in 1972 where they took the control group, left the police department patrols where they were. And then an adjacent sector, they took everybody out. And everybody, the only time the police department went into that sector was when they called for service. And once the service was done, they left. At the end of the study, there was no change in anybody’s perception of law enforcement. There was no change in crime levels. The police, the citizens didn’t feel any safer, they didn’t know what was going on. But they didn’t feel any safer, it was all, there was no change. So it turns out that just being around really doesn’t deter crime. And if you think about it, if you’re running radar in your neighborhood and you leave after 20 minutes, it’s coming back. This is a concept that’s really getting traction, but in some areas is where we put the detectives back in uniform, where we allow the police officer on the scene to do all the investigation start to finish.
And then we don’t need the investigator to come in later on and do any work. So, we take those detectives, put them back in uniform and we increase the police officers on the street. That’s not, this doesn’t get a lot of attention with police detectives though. We get community buy-in. The agencies might consider eliminating response time to specific calls or they might start a telephone reporting process to handle specific incidents. Lot a theft reports can be done on a phone. You have a cell phone theft, all I need is a case report number, do it by phone. Vandalism, burglary with no suspects. You can do that by phone. Shoplifting, the burglar alarm one has always been a favorite one of mine. And recently, San Jose, California they had a reduction in their force and they did a study to find out where they can best, allocate their resources. They found that 98% of their burglar alarms without a verification from the home were false. So, 98% of the time, nobody, it’s going to be a false call. They stopped sending people out on burglar alarms. My thought was we would send guys out, no lights and siren, we wouldn’t jeopardize anybody because we knew it would be false. But we sent anybody just to double check. But you can see how your organization can change to try to benefit the agency and the community that way. Let’s see, right then the time that was used for things like responding to burglar alarms and doing shoplifter reports, they can be added to the time where the officers can do prevention focused patrols.
You know, it’s difficult to do problem policing if the officers don’t feel they have time to get it done. Push back can come on this issue for the managers and the administration because they don’t want to give up control. They’re really afraid to end up with a flattened organizational structure. Which means that instead of having to, as a police officer, instead of having to ask my boss, his boss, then the Chief to do anything, I can simply do it. But the Chiefs are sometimes reluctant to give that kind of power to their police officers. Community oversight of police operations. Recent article on LE Trends shows that agencies are leaning this way. We want to really have community policing. We need to get the community involved with the police departments. And this places any kind of partnership out front so that people can see it, builds trust in the agency. And allows them to work on emergency and crisis. It helps to frame a response. They can use non-government operations or organizations. There’s over 10 million worldwide. They can use faith-based, and faith-based is usually something for when you have, I consider it’s a grassroots where the mission’s usually social values. You can use, and the NGOs, there are some Greater Huntsville Humane Society, 1,000 Friends of Oregon is another NGO, 100 Black Men of Long Island, 23rd Street Foundation and Partnership, 4-H of Lackawanna County, PA. There are millions of NGOs that we can leverage to help us do our job problem solving and community policing. Independent investigators, there’s civilian oversight committees managed by the citizens and not the police department. Omaha, Nebraska Police Department’s the biggest in the state they have 800 officers. Several years ago they went to civilian oversight committee. Lot a push back from the officers. But eventually it went through okay. With the proper way it was designed and implemented and couched. What they would do and, you know, the officers didn’t trust them because there wasn’t cops. And then the big problem was the citizens were having a trust issue with the police officers. But it worked out well for them because they handled it properly. Everybody wants a fair and impartial investigation and that’s the way it’s turning out.
So, in conclusion, the time to make changes is before the crisis occurs. And if you don’t get all the stakeholders involved, citizens, police officers, NGOs, media, social network, the Chief or the Sheriff. If everybody’s not on board it has a less chance of passing. And, you know, if you don’t stand still, if you don’t make dust get out of the way. So, these things will happen. We want to be on that front of it so we can direct how they happen.
Now, there was a couple a questions came through. And let me just really quick look at a couple of them.
A lot of reports of community policing working in large cities but will it work in a small agency or a rural agency? Absolutely, it’ll work anywhere if you work it properly. And as a matter of fact, I think smaller agencies have a better chance of making it occur because they’re already doing community policing work. They know everybody in town, they know what’s going around in the area, people trust them already. So, now it’s just a matter of switching the officers from a mindset of crime fighting to order maintenance or being a guardian type of response.
Let’s see, there was a question about flattening out the police command. We talked about that a little bit. You know, flattening it out, it’s a de-centralization of the chain of command that give the officers, the authority and the accountability, too. Oh, here was a good one. Should we get officers to be like Sheriff Taylor of Mayberry don’t carry guns and be soft on criminals? Well, let me answer the second part first, no. We are not soft on criminals. Community policing, in fact, they thrive on either displacing crime or arresting criminals. Detection and prevention’s a major part of problem solving. And then if officers spend time eliminating criminal opportunity it gives them more time to do prevention focused policing. So, no we’re not soft on crime. It reminds me of, call one of my officers was on where one of my favorite things as a sergeant was to tell my troops, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. So, in other words, and I tell my son that, where there was a parking lot and it was two o’clock in the morning, kid was coming home from work, it was empty and he was doing a couple a donuts on the snow-covered ground. So, my officer arrested him for willful reckless driving, a misdemeanor. Of course, I’m not going to tell him he can’t because all the elements were there. But my discussion was because you can doesn’t mean you should. Look at how you can resolve that issue problem solve it out a little bit, what else could you have done? That’s the kind of thing, a message I want to give to my troops when I talk to them about that. But Andy, he was a good cop. Andy Taylor was a good cop in Mayberry. He knew everybody on the beat. They all respected him, they all trusted him. And he was able to get the job done by solving problems. And bonus, he loved his job, it meant a lot to him and he was happy going to work. So, that’s all the questions that I had.
Let me, think we got one more here. Your agency engages in community policings all the time and it does make a difference. Glad to hear that. Taking the first step to be a part of the community. Good, good, no not just working for the community. I like that, I may use that in my next seminars and not give you credit. Okay, but let me go on here and in the questions and comments.
I wanted to just acknowledge LEFTA Systems for providing the platform to exchange our ideas today about public safety professionals. LEFTA itself has been in business for developing software for public safety professionals for over 13 years. It was started by a master sergeant from Jacksonville, Florida. At that time he was concerned about the quality and timeliness of handwritten documents from his FDO program.
So, he came up with the LEFTA program. And then today, there’s a complete suite of applications for agencies that work as a standalone application or they work together as a bundle. And it includes the field training, a use of force reporting, training records and management academy documentation. Pursuit documentation, employee vehicle damage reporting and other programs are available. LEFTA’s applications are being used in over 300 agencies and 40 states by over 5,000 officers. I just wanted to get that in there because they allowed us to do this today and put this whole thing together, did an excellent job of it.
If you or you know somebody who wants to be a guest or lead a webinar for us we’re looking for people.
And here’s our contact information. You can email us at: Info@leftasystems.org or you can call us 1-800-405-3109. And of course, we’re on the Web, leftasystems.org. At this point, I think I am done. There’s no more questions. Wanted to flash the references here. As a college professor I always like to make sure I give credit where credit is due. And I don’t believe, I’m looking here, no other questions anybody? I’m looking, no. Okay. And okay good, I don’t have any other questions.
And a full disclosure so that everybody knows, I do work for LEFTA, I am the account manager, regional account manager for the Midwest. So, I do work for LEFTA. But still, this is a great opportunity that they provided. If there are no other questions then we hope to see you on our next webinar which is on June 27th. At that time your presenter will be Cory. And Cory is also an officer a retired officer from Florida. And I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say. I hope to see everybody there as well. Thank you, all.”