So you are nearly ready to kick intelligence-led policing into high gear! Your data is right, your training is in place, your command structure and your officers are ready to go. So now what? The next step is admittedly a step that very few of us enjoy, meetings. Meetings are however integral to the survival of intelligence-led policing. Strategic and tactical meetings are the most effective methods of disseminating “game plan” information throughout your department. Don't think of these meetings in the same terms that you think about the meetings you currently have at your department. These meetings should have a completely different feel to them. Instead of meetings filled with facts and spreadsheets, these meetings should go way beyond simple numbers. They should delve into the “now what?” questions.
Let’s look at your staff meeting for instance, in general most staff meetings are simple crime numbers and maybe a few maps. The meeting generally sounds like this; “we had five of these, 12 of those, blah blah blah”, on and on. Keep in mind I'm speaking from experience here, if I am poking fun at anyone, then I am poking at myself. The very staff meeting that I began with was built around the basic Comp Stat concept. While there is certainly nothing wrong with Comp Stat, the way we were utilizing the method, left us with PowerPoint slides with raw number data and certainly no “now what?”. Following the teachings of intelligence-led policing, we transformed our staff meeting to a series of reports based on raw numbers, to a fully interactive crime fighting meeting. We did not just look at and study our current crime trends, we compared those trends to historical patterns to assist us in determining the possibility of future patterns. I spoke earlier about strategic and tactical meetings and the importance of having both. Using what we have learned from intelligence-led policing, we were able to utilize our staff meeting for both long-term strategic planning as well as short-term tactical crime-fighting plans.
Let me explain what I mean. To begin I transformed our PowerPoint staff meeting presentation from slides of sheer numbers, to slides that not only had the raw numbers, they also included; charts, satellite maps, heat maps, graphs, and time of day/day of week charts to name some of the new visualizations. I did not however keep myself handcuffed to just the PowerPoint. While using a PowerPoint style presentation in your command staff meetings is very important especially when it comes to recordkeeping, you need to be able to go beyond simple slides and step into making your meetings interactive. The way I bridged that gap was by having a large drop down screen in the middle our meeting room, and then I had two flat screen televisions flanking both sides of that large drop down screen. The flat screen televisions were hooked directly to a laptop that I was controlling so that I could show live and historical data to my command staff that was in conjunction with the PowerPoint presentation. A typical meeting would consist of reviewing the past months crime data; what had happened, where it happened, and when it happened. In most meetings, however, questions would arise in relation to crimes that might have a common thread, a common suspect, or a common geographic area. These questions quite often concerned crimes that occurred in the previous month, which we were meeting on, and the current month, which we had just begun. When these questions arose the meeting instantly went from strategic to tactical and we were able to accomplish this shift by switching from our PowerPoint, to our crime data feed.
I encourage you to begin the transformation of your department's meetings with your command staff meeting, and then use that general template for your other meeting needs. If you begin with your staff meetings, it is an excellent vehicle for instructing your command staff on this new intelligence-led policing meeting style. It will also allow your command staff to become comfortable enough to conduct their own meetings using this much more efficient and effective style of crime-fighting.
Stay tuned as I provide a couple unique ideas for how to progress your intelligence-led policing in my next blog. Until then, check out our crime analytics resource site to learn more about how you can properly evaluate solutions that will help start transforming your meetings from ordinary, to intelligence-led.
Daniel Seals is a Former Crime Analyst and Detective, and Current Public Safety Industry Expert at Motorola Solutions.