Learning to work smarter
An effective business plan begins with great vision, strategic planning, and outlines operational objectives in support of corporate goals. Successful organizations work smarter by using technology to maximize their human resources. While this is commonplace in the private sector, the same corporate strategy transcends to law enforcement agencies. The advancement of software supporting the law enforcement community allows an agency to work much more efficiently and effectively.
Burleson’s growth requires a forward leaning posture to meet service demands for the 26 square miles of the city. Combine that with the additional 56 square miles of the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Area (ETJ) and planning becomes an important priority to ensure our infrastructure maintains pace. Burleson prides itself on smart growth and we are fortunate that our city leaders and elected officials prioritize public safety. The challenge for public safety is to capitalize on the resources provided to ensure the taxpayer money is wisely spent.
Adding personnel is always important in a growing organization and this year’s budget includes a new school resource officer and three public safety communications specialist’s. Beyond personnel though, an effective business model for a police organization includes technology that integrates the databases and processes to maximize staff time. The Burleson Police Department utilizes a powerful records management system to share information, track crime, view trends, assign resources, and make decisions based on data driven objectives.
BPD serves as the hub for the record management system that most Johnson County law enforcement agencies utilize which enables us to process information more effectively while sharing the costs. The integrated software combines the research capabilities of multiple agencies under one database and that capability saves valuable time when tracking a suspect. For example, a detective may have limited information on a suspect or vehicle involved in a crime but enough information to begin searching the database. Through the link-analysis module, the detective can view all information related to their search, including any information entered from another Johnson County agency into the software. Furthermore, the software will reveal relationships with other people, vehicles, etc. that may be associated with our suspect and that may be the evidence that solves a case.
The software provides higher efficiency as well as a level of safety for our patrol officers. The Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) module tracks calls for service, maintains the disposition of the call, and allows Communications to see where officers are located through the automatic vehicle location component. The integrated network allows communications staff to know where each agency’s officers are located. For example, if we have an offense in Burleson, we can see which car is closest and dispatch that unit. That capability extends outside of BPD vehicles to all Johnson County agencies linked to our system. Therefore, the dispatcher can see where all other agency vehicles are located and can alert them when the suspect was last seen travelling toward their city. These powerful tools also drive many of the processes used to track crime trends and assign resources.
In 1994, two police officers in New York City decided they wanted to track crime and used a computer to build a database that tagged locations where crimes occurred. They believed inputting single crimes in a database allowed them to identify trends quickly and deploy officers to that area. Their concept evolved into a nation-wide philosophy know as Comp-Stat, which is short for computer aided statistics. From there, intelligence led policing was born and software began surfacing that allowed agencies to more effectively monitor crime and deploy resources.
The Comp-Stat model identified four pillars to reduce crime.
- Accurate and timely information
- Rapid response
- Effective tactics
- Relentless follow-up
Accurate and timely information- BPD’s Crime Analyst constantly reviews crime and quickly identifies emerging trends through our records management software. Using GIS technology, she maps offenses that are sent to officers and that allows supervisors to direct patrol activities. Suspect information is packaged in the form of bulletins to ensure officers can readily access the latest information. She networks with the crime analyst throughout the region and state, sharing pertinent data to expand her resources to neighboring jurisdictions that have likely experienced similar crimes. Another important aspect of her job is to manage our workload analysis to ensure we have officers deployed correctly. Rapid response- Preventing crime rests with your ability to rapidly move resources into an area when a trend emerges. While patrol officers are aware of the trends, they have a primary responsibility of answering calls for service. Therefore, we are not as effective in proactively attacking a trend. However, BPD will reallocate officers to a new unit for an October start date that will be in place for this purpose. The Strategic Response Team will consist of a sergeant and four officers that will train to work plain clothes details, gather intelligence, and work with our task forces to attack crime trends. Relentless follow-up- The forth pillar ensures that we maintain the ability to evaluate our intelligence, tactics, and effectiveness in accomplishing our goals.
Delivering quality service is a high priority for the Burleson Police Department and maintaining a low crime rate in a growing city is challenging. It starts with dedicated employees that are committed to providing exceptional service and extends to the use of resources and technology that allows efficiencies within the organization. Public safety affects many aspects of a municipality, including economic development. Developers want to know that an investment in a community will be supported by the safety of citizens that live, work, and play in that community.
It is an honor to serve such an incredible community so my final thought is to invite you to join our team. The partnership we have with the community serves as the backbone of our success. Our partnerships include Citizens on Patrol, Citizen Police Academy, Ministers and Officers for a Greater Burleson, and the Burleson Police Foundation. If you are interested in joining our Citizens on Patrol, learn more about the department, or become a member of the faith-based partnership, I invite you to visit our website at www.burlesontx.com and click on the police department page.
Billy Cordell is the Chief of the Burleson Police Department