Friday, January 21, 2011

Rethinking officer deployment

The below article in our monthly Informant newsletter outlines the possibility of a new way to deploy officers across Kansas City:

KCPD is testing a new program that would fundamentally change the way the department addresses crime and how officers are deployed.

The Strategic Deployment program is focused on improving the way division commanders make decisions and allocate their resources. It uses the latest technology for analyzing data, as well as an improved system of communication to help proactively address crime and target problem areas.

“This will make us more efficient and more effective,” Chief James Corwin said. “We’re going to be taking a lot of our resources and directing our focus at the players who are causing the problems.”

This past year, the CSTAR Unit began creating a framework for the program with tools, technology, and training for the patrol divisions to use. The program is fluid, so each patrol divisions can use the tools in ways that best meets their needs.

Major Bryon Price of the Professional Standards Division said one of the biggest changes the program will bring is how officers are deployed. Instead of restricting officers to an assigned geographic patrol sector, it allows commanders to look at their overall division area and shift officers to where they are needed most. It also encourages commanders to share resources among divisions.

“It’s really a paradigm shift for the department,” Major Price said. “It’s intelligence-led, not just based on crime statistics and personal knowledge.”

South Patrol was chosen as the pilot program and began using some of the new techniques in October 2010.

Each week, a committee of South Patrol supervisors from each watch and patrol meet to review crime stats and maps from the week before. They discuss strategies that are working and brainstorm ideas to address recurring problems or any major crimes.

“Strategic Deployment looks at the whole problem and looks at what resources we need to address the problem,” Major Robin Houston said. “Who can we contact, what relationships can be made, and what internally can we do to get better results.”

Major Houston said the program has helped improve communication among her officers, as well as focus the department on addressing issues more effectively. So far, she’s received positive feedback from the officers who appreciate the outlet for new ideas, as well as timely and pertinent information.

Already they’re seeing results. In previous years, South Patrol had seen an increase in business robberies during the holidays. Using that information, they proactively saturated the more common robbery areas with patrols, and they’ve already seen a drop in business robberies. From Nov. 20 to Dec. 28, 2010, robberies dropped 48 percent from the same period in 2009.

Major Price said Metro Patrol has begun testing the program, and he expects other patrol divisions to begin using the techniques as well.

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