Early intervention systems (EIS) provide numerous benefits for law enforcement agencies. An early intervention system is a data-based police management tool designed to identify employees (sworn and civilian) whose behavior is concerning to be able to proactively address issues and adjust . Also known as early warning systems (EWS) or early warning and intervention systems (EWIS) , EIS have been around since the early 1970s but have evolved significantly with advances in software and data management, storage and analysis technology. Many, especially in today’s politically charged culture, are quick to assume that the key benefits of EIS are to identify police misconduct and “problem officers” for disciplinary reasons, however, this view is extremely short-sighted. In fact, EIS are designed to and to support law enforcement agencies and personnel in critical ways. Three of the most important benefits of early intervention systems for law enforcement departments include improving operational efficiency, decreasing liability, and promoting officer wellness. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Benefit #1: EIS Improve Operational Efficiency of Law Enforcement Departments
Historically, law enforcement departments have relied heavily upon paper records for data input and reporting, data storage and data analysis. From training-related documentation such as academy, FTO, in-service and managing other employee training records to reporting on use of force incidents, field contacts, vehicle pursuits and damage to department property and vehicles, this has always been the case.
Given the evolution of , manual methodology today is undeniably antiquated, inefficient and cost-prohibitive. This is especially true with regards to more time-, scrutinized and consequential areas such as reporting, tracking and analyzing data related to use of force, bias-profiling, employee conduct and internal affairs investigations, where more data is increasingly required due to liability.
Eliminating paper data entry saves countless hours of administrative time related to reporting and analyzing such data. Additionally, storing data in the cloud reduces physical space requirements while also enhancing sharing capabilities. These are only the most basic benefits related to improving operational efficiencies.
The benefits are even greater for law enforcement supervisors who are accountable for maintaining, interpreting and analyzing large amounts of data, while overseeing departmental accountability across numerous areas. EIS systems utilize analytics and technology to perform these tasks dynamically, consistently and in real time to flag concerning events, behaviors, patterns and trends, thereby enabling proactive, early intervention. When information is needed, it is all right at hand and can be sorted, parsed and analyzed over any time period by simply looking at a dashboard versus having to pull paper records from disparate locations and databases, assuming a supervisor is even aware of or knows what information they might need. This ultimately translates into transformative time, energy and costs savings, all of which can redistributed for more pressing needs while dramatically enhancing performance across multiple departments.
Benefit #2: EIS Help Reduce Liability for Law Enforcement Officers
Throughout history, police officers and departments have been scrutinized for patterns of problematic performance related to use of force, citizen complaints, profiling, traffic stops, arrests, and more. Today, on the heels of high-profile policing events like the George Floyd, Eric Garner and Brown cases, that scrutiny has never been higher. According to ABC News, U.S. cities paid more than $300 million in lawsuit settlements involving police use for force incidents and false arrests in 2019, alone. Officers and agencies increasingly face professional, financial and life-changing consequences for their actions in a highly emotionally-charged, political environment.
Most people understand the high-stakes, split-second decisions that are regularly required by law enforcement and how even a single mistake can lead to tragedy for both officers and the public.
Studies have shown that just 2 percent of all officers are responsible for 50 percent of all citizen complaints. By identifying those few individuals through the flagging of problematic behavioral trends the department can reduce the vast majority of issues, and thereby reduce the exposure to civil and criminal liability. In large departments with hundreds or even thousands of officers, this exercise can be akin to finding the proverbial “needle in the haystack”. A comprehensive EIS system, however, can make it simple to identify troubled employees by providing early-warning indicators based on completely customizable fields and performance data. By implementing an EIS, departments can significantly reduce their liability while protecting the welfare of their agencies, officers and the public.
Benefit #3 EIS Promote Officer Wellness
A recent study by U.S. News & World Report highlighted law enforcement officers as one of the most stressful jobs in America. Many officers can find themselves in danger or having to make a life and death decision at any moment. This type of stress can negatively impact both physical and emotional well-being, leading to mental health issues, poor judgement and decision-making, and ultimately troubling patterns of behavior. We already discussed how such can not only lead to liability problems for departments, but also suffering and in some cases, life-altering consequences for the officers. With an EIS in place, supervisors can support not only officer well-being by making the officer aware of a concerning pattern of behavior, thereby potentially protecting the officer’s health, career or possibly their life, but also protect the public from officer wrong doing.
EIS systems like the one incorporated in LEFTA Systems’ SHIELD Suite, not only provide customized tracking of such high-profile data as citizen complaints, bias-based profiling, use of force incidents, vehicle pursuits, officer involved traffic crashes and internal affairs investigations, but also more subtle signals that can emerge from other trends in employee conduct such as poor attendance, excessive sick leave, and exposure to traumatic events that could alert a supervisor to an officer who might be experiencing professional or personal challenges. Our LEFTA Systems integrated platform of applications even includes apps for Academy and Field Training, highlighting when and where officers may need additional support and training as they are preparing and learning to enter the world of law enforcement.
Improving operational efficiency, decreasing liability and promoting officer wellness are just three of the most important benefits of early intervention systems. Their capabilities and benefits, however, extend much further. If your department is not yet using an EIS, and you’d like to learn more about implementing one, we invite you to set up a free-demo with LEFTA Systems to show you what it’s all about. Since 2006, LEFTA Systems has been one of the nation’s leaders in law enforcement software, representing almost 4,500 agencies and 100,000 law enforcement officers at local, state and federal levels. LEFTA Systems’ SHIELD Suite applications were built for cops, by cops. Let them show you why their client retention rate is over 98%.