Innovative law enforcement strategies earn worldwide recognition from police chiefs and Motorola
NEW ORLEANS — Officials from three Canadian police agencies will be honored today for their creative partnerships, staffing initiatives and traffic safety innovations when the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) recognize the winners of the annual IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement.
The York Regional Police, Ontario; Ottawa Police Service, Ontario; and Montreal Police Service, Quebec; will receive the 15th annual Webber Seavey Award in a ceremony today in conjunction with the IACP’s annual conference in New Orleans. The award is sponsored by the IACP and Motorola. Named for the IACP’s first president, the Webber Seavey Award recognizes successful policing programs that can serve as models for law enforcement agencies worldwide.
“Motorola congratulates the award winners and is proud to shine a spotlight on the forward-thinking programs that have earned this distinction,’’ said Bob Schassler, vice president of Motorola’s Government and Commercial markets business. “Collaborating with the IACP to honor the men and women who meet the daily challenges of law enforcement with such creativity and dedication is a rewarding experience.’’
The awards program attracted 117 applicants, and a panel of law enforcement officials and previous winners judged the entries. In addition to the top three award recipients, seven finalists and 15 semi-finalists will be honored at the 114th annual IACP conference.
“The IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award gives us an opportunity to applaud innovative and successful programs that law enforcement agencies worldwide are accomplishing to make their communities safer,” said MG Joseph C. Carter, Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard and President of the IACP. “These agencies are blazing new trails for our profession, and I know that these programs will help others build and strengthen the important work that they do.”
York Regional Police: York Region, Ontario
The York Regional Police, who protect almost 1 million people in the suburbs north of Toronto, had reports that law-abiding citizens were concerned about youth and gang crime. Although statistically the area was safe, the police saw the perception of danger as a challenge to be met head-on. For the first time, the police agency partnered with community groups—parent associations, faith groups, recreational athletic leagues—to create a widespread anti-gang strategy.
“Making a difference in our community starts with the community,” said Chief Armand La Barge. “We are sharing the responsibility with our community stakeholders, linking prevention and enforcements efforts more closely together.
“It’s not good enough to tell kids to stay away from gangs, you have to offer them an alternative,” La Barge added. “Implementing new youth programs, offering free transportation to recreational centres and involving young police officers in youth mentoring programs has resulted in a significant drop in street- level crime typically committed by youth. Success here was achieved not just by police, but by our community partners as well.”
Ottawa Police Service: Ottawa, Ontario
While community involvement has its place, sometimes law enforcement agencies rely on business principles to improve operations. The Ottawa Police Service faced a surge of retirements, burgeoning overtime payments and new laws guaranteeing officers family leave time. The “Strategic Staffing Initiative’’ borrowed manufacturing’s “just in time inventory’’ principle to ensure that trained officers would be in the right place at the right time.
Previously, the department had to wait for a retirement to occur to begin training a new recruit. “With the time it took to go through training and then ride with another officer, we were looking at a 12-month personnel gap,’’ said Supt. Knowlton Roberts. “Now we can hire in anticipation of retirements, and have new personnel all ready to go.’’
The department identified 200 new positions to be filled, with an initial cost estimate of Canadian $13 million. But through prudent planning and organization, the department hired almost 450 civilians and sworn officers at a cost of about $6 million.
“The new staffing arrangements have been accepted politically, and that’s been rewarding,’’ Roberts said. “Of course, the ultimate beneficiary is the community – this means we have more police on the street.’’
Montreal Police Service: Montreal, Quebec
Meanwhile, in Montreal’s most populous district, public perception about traffic safety spurred the local police to take action to reduce accidents. A traffic study showed that 40 percent of the district’s accidents occurred on just one road, a main thoroughfare through both business and high-rise residential neighborhoods. About 12,000 vehicles use the Côte-des-Neiges daily, and some portions of the road contain three lanes in each direction.
Without increasing personnel, the department instituted a revolving crackdown on several aspects of traffic safety including speeding, seat belt usage and driving while impaired.
“We were able to use some of the same policing principles that are used to fight drug crimes,’’ said Commander Eric La Penna. “This involves concentrating on certain infractions, which in turn increases perception of large amounts of intervention. People think they are going to be caught for all kinds of things.’’
The program, which started about five years ago and is now permanent, showed immediate results, La Penna said. In addition to improving the quality of life in the neighborhood, the program has saved the police force money.
“We have recouped a tremendous amount of time by escorting fewer accident victims to the hospital, writing fewer accident reports and making fewer trips to court,’’ La Penna said. “This means we can redirect more police to fighting gang activity and other violent crimes.’’