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3 tips for implementing intelligence-led policing all PDs can learn from

Most departments have RMS and CAD systems but is your agency leveraging police intelligence in a smart way?


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By Warren Wilson for PoliceOne

Many of our failings in law enforcement come from institutional inertia. The “That’s how we’ve always done it,” thought process inhibits progress. For instance, federal and international agencies adopted intelligence-led policing decades ago, but many of us in local law enforcement haven’t jumped on board quite yet. 

Implementing an intelligence-led policing program can be daunting but with three steps any agency can incorporate them into practice. (image/iStock)
Implementing an intelligence-led policing program can be daunting but with three steps any agency can incorporate them into practice. (image/iStock)

Intelligence-led policing (ILP), according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, is “a collaborative enterprise based on improved intelligence operations.”  

ILP was also described by DJ Seals, chief software evangelist at Motorola Solutions, as “employing a strategic and collaborative approach to crime control that is based on the sequence of data collection, high-quality analysis of that data, and the extraction of actionable intelligence from that information to target repeat offenders and criminal groups that are considered most dangerous to the community.”

This is accomplished by policing software programs like the Command Center Software Suite which allows easy access to intelligence and gives users a streamlined process for gathering, storing, and disseminating that information. Keep in mind, raw data is not intelligence.  Information must be analyzed to judge its relevance and how it can be used most efficiently by field personnel. 

Intelligence shapes communication during an engagement deficit

Effective police work lives or dies by the human hand. Intelligence-led policing is no exception. ILP isn’t just about computer software; it’s about quality data and how it affects our communication abilities. That information must be free, open, and accessible to those who need it. 

Everyone from the records division to the narcotics unit must share pertinent information with each other. Today, a department that does not use ILP is quite simply not as effective as it could be. Let’s examine some of the consequences of not including intelligence-led policing at your agency.                 

Employee engagement is a hot topic in today’s leadership literature, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves in law enforcement. 

Think about being a cop in yet another daily briefing. You’re told to do “extra patrols” around a certain neighborhood because of some recent burglaries. You will, but does that information really help you quell break-ins and capture offenders?  Now, what if in the briefing you were also told the offenders entered residences between 1400 and 1600 hours through windows that contained an unsecured air conditioning unit in the backyard of homes with privacy fences? Of course, the more intelligence we have the more engaged we will be in each respective assignment. Employee engagement alone brings increased effectiveness to any organization. 

Resource misallocation doesn’t happen easily when you’re informed

In public service, resources are always at a premium and misallocation of those resources can be costly. Every effort should be made to find at least an approximate location of each incident reported and have it entered correctly in the system.  If we don’t know where incidents are occurring, we can’t effectively put resources where they are needed.  

Implementing an intelligence-led policing program can be daunting. Seals has spent a lot of time teaching law enforcement agencies on how to implement an intelligence-led policing program that includes the following steps:

1. Review your data

After reviewing your data, ask yourself some hard questions. How would you rate the quality of your data?  For example, how many calls for service are listed at the location of the report rather than the location of the actual incident as described above?  Is your data accessible? Is specific intelligence restricted or not easily located by the patrol officers and detectives who need it? If so, changes must be made. 

2. Clean up your data

After you’ve reviewed your data, get it cleaned up. Find out if your reports are being properly coded.

There was a department whose records personnel was for several years erroneously coding every domestic disturbance call as a domestic violence incident.  Being classified as one of the worst jurisdictions in their state for domestic violence, the department worked diligently implementing programs, changing enforcement and prosecutorial procedures without success.  After the agency cleaned up their flawed data, they found their statistics aligned with the rest of the state.

3. Change your procedure for data collection and dissemination

The last step in ILP implementation is to change your procedures to prevent new data from being flawed. That means ensuring information is properly gathered, entered, and disseminated. Reports must be taken with the greatest detail practicable. Those reports must be analyzed for relevant data. When patterns emerge from days of the week, times, locations, etc., that information must be shared with patrol officers and detectives openly and quickly. 

This is just a brief overview of what your department is missing if you are not using intelligence-led policing platforms like Motorola Solutions’ Command Center Software Suite, CommandCentral.

Keep in mind that an agency doesn’t have to necessarily hire a crime analyst or start a new division to use ILP.  However, intelligence-led policing does require additional effort on the part of the administration. Our own effort is the one thing that we have 100 percent control of.  

About the author: Warren Wilson is a lieutenant with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.

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