What Kinds of Recommendations Do Operations Analysts Make?
Police operations analysts may make any kind of recommendation that they see as important or necessary to improve the functioning and efficiency of the police department. Operations analysis may also include pointing out deficiencies in police-community relations, problems in living up to the department’s own mission statement, and changes in the community that may require concomitant changes within the police department. That could mean adding or changing the focus of some units within the department or reassigning command staff or officers to other tasks or units. But, the recommendations that are made are also related to the assignment given to the operations analyst.
Examples of Recommendations
In an analysis of one Midwestern city’s police department, it was found that there were no specific crime prevention activities conducted by this particular police department. Having experienced a reduction in staff because the city was forced to lay off police officers, as well as other city employees, the police department was struggling to keep up with calls for service. While the analyst conceded that the department was doing a good job of responding to citizen calls for service, there were no resources directed at crime prevention. The analyst, responding to a city council request for an overall appraisal of the police department’s functioning, in the final report stated that crime prevention could be a valuable approach to community safety and community relations. Arising from this was a recommendation for a full-time position to be dedicated to crime prevention, with the ultimate goal of crime reduction in the city (ICMA, 2012).
The same report concerning the same Midwestern city also pointed out problems in terms of where calls for service in the downtown business district occurred and the deployment of officers. The analysis of police operations determined that of the more than 800 calls for service in the downtown business district during one 120-month period, 55% of those calls for service occurred at just 5 of the 58 establishments serving alcohol. So, just 10% of the establishments generated 50% of the workload for the police department in that district (ICMA, 2012). Furthermore, it was determined by analysis data available within that state that only two of the five establishments received sanctions from the state, and that there was no incentive to make changes to reduce calls for service.
The recommendation from the analyst was that there would be appointed a supervisor within the department to be dedicated to following up on enforcement of sanctions after calls for service and when it was found that the establishment was responsible in some way (e.g., serving alcohol to already intoxicated patrons or allowing intoxicated patrons to engage in assaults on the premises). The supervisor, it was suggested, would supervise officers at the scene and then do aggressive follow-up with both the state and the owners of the establishment (ICMA, 2012).
For another Midwestern city, the operations report addressed the identification and property unit of the police department. The report pointed out that the identification and property unit is staffed by one police officer and one community service officer. However, these two individuals were responsible for maintaining a 1500-square-foot facility to label and track property stored for safekeeping. This property consists of the physical, photographic, digital, and forensic property and evidence that comes into the custody of the police department. In any one year, that could mean that the unit would handle more than 6600 items related to almost 2900 new cases. In addition to property management, the unit is also responsible for processing subpoenas, expunging documents processed by the records unit, providing fingerprinting services to the public, processing licenses for cab drivers, and processing video and digital evidence required by officers for presentation in court (ICMA, 2014). In one recent year, that amounted to photo or video evidence for 1100 cases (ICMA, 2014).
The report went on to indicate that although regular unannounced inspections of the property are carried out, the property room has not been subject to a rigorous inventory in recent years. This led to a recommendation that a complete and thorough inventory of the property room needs to be conducted. Furthermore, it was recommended that more community service officers (civilian employees) be hired to replace the one police officer and beef up the staff to handle the workload (ICMA, 2014). Specifically, the recommendation was to fully staff the identification and property unit with nonsworn personnel and provide appropriate training in criminalistics and information technology.
In an operations report for a West Coast city, an analysis recommended that the police department establish a credible intelligence function within the department. The report stated that the police agency needs to develop an intelligence function to sift through the enormous amounts of information processed daily to identify crime patterns and trends, help locate offenders, and support proactive missions with intelligence information (ICMA, 2012). It was further recommended that a new intelligence unit work hand in hand with the patrol and investigative units of the department.
For one of the Midwestern cities mentioned above, the operations analysis report made statements regarding patrol staffing. The report stated that, in general, a “rule of 60” can be applied to evaluate patrol staffing. The report explained that this rule has two parts. The first part states that 60% of the sworn officers in a department should be dedicated to the patrol function (patrol staffing), and the second part states that no more than 60% of their time should be committed to calls for service. This commitment of 60% of their time, the report stated, is referred to as the patrol saturation index (ICMA, 2014). The report explained that the rule of 60 for patrol deployment does not mean the remaining 40% of time is downtime or break time. It is a reflection of the extent to which patrol officer time is saturated by calls for service. The time when police personnel are not responding to calls should be committed to management-directed operations (ICMA, 2014). This is a more focused use of time and can include supervised allocation of patrol officer activities toward proactive enforcement, crime prevention, community policing, and citizen safety initiatives.
This report recommended that fewer sworn officers be assigned to patrol. A specific number of officers for patrol duty was suggested, along with a specific number for traffic duty.
Operations analysis can extend to the maintenance of facilities and the acquisition and maintenance of equipment. If there is too great a reliance on military equipment, or if the resources, such as police automobiles, are not properly maintained, that could lead to recommendations, too.
In Chapter 16, the final chapter of this book, we will discuss the education and training needed to become a skilled crime analyst.