Monday, August 2, 2010

Long, boring, and useless

Last Wednesday, our regular ACUDAT meeting was attended by a crime analyst and a police lieutenant from the Aurora, Illinois.  Like many departments (Lincoln included) Aurora is looking around for good ideas.  They’ve been thinking about some potential changes to their Compstat meetings, and that’s why they were interested in having a look at ours.

We hooked Aurora up remotely using gotomeeting.com, and for a little over an hour they were able to eavesdrop on our meeting.  On the menu last week were Church burglaries, school burglaries, and larceny from autos in swimming pool parking lots.  No doubt these same crime patterns occur from time to time in Aurora.  We exchanged some information about these crimes, discussed some strategies and plans, reviewed our year-to-date crime stats, how we’re doing on some crimes discussed at previous meetings, and that was that. 

I don’t know if Aurora saw anything of interest, but I think the reason so many other departments have visited our ACUDAT meeting is because it represents an alternative to how Compstat is carried out in most other cities.  After visiting with dozens of other departments, in my view the typical Compstat meeting is too long; is static (rather than interactive); is too general, dealing too much in statistics rather than getting down into the  specifics of individual problems; focuses too much on trying to hold district commanders accountable; has a “gotcha” feel rather than an information sharing one; is too scripted; contains far too many PowerPoint slides; is not sufficiently current; and is targeted too much at administrators, rather than operational personnel. 

Compstat has pretty much swept the field in policing.  If you’re not doing a Compstat meeting now, you will be with your next chief.  On balance, I think the fundamental concepts it represents are good ones: focus on results, monitor your performance, get the command staff engaged in the department’s key outcomes.  Care must be taken, however, not to create a meeting that is long, boring, and mostly useless. 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Care must be taken, however, not to create a meeting that is long, boring, and mostly useless."

Much like today's blog topic.

Tom Casady said...

7:59-

Yes, but here's the difference: you're not requried to read my blog.

Sometimes I even bore myself.

Anonymous said...

Only a mom's-basement-dweller with the mind of a child would find today's topic "boring". Such little brains require wither a a stupid criminal story or something with a humorous youtube video to get their approval.

Anonymous said...

Chief-After several of years being a big shot, with a number of people reporting to me, I figured something out. I really was just going to a lot of "long, boring, and useless" meetings. So I cleared my calendar of meetings and actually got into the field and did something productive. I found that I actually became a better leader because I remembered what my team was supposed to do and that our success was not really totally connected to the data mining we were doing. Here's a helpful hint.

You, every Asst. Chief., Captain, and Lieutenant, should take a beat every once in awhile. Answer the stolen vibrator calls. Investigate an accident. Handle a domestic. Just you, no ride-along. Full shift.

You'll feel invigorated. You'll be more connected to the folks in the field. You'll be a part of the team, not apart from the team.

And you'll figure out a way to eliminate most of the meetings that someone feels are necessary.

I hate meetings. I left management, took a huge pay cut, and I compete every day in my job with a bunch of thirty-year-olds. And amazingly, I still can teach them a thing or two. Paul Aksamit had it right all along.

256

Former Deputy D said...

Chief,
Were you able to hire a Crime Analysis Manager? If so, how's that going? I first interviewed for the position and have since taken some additional on-line training on the subject and enjoy it very much. Let me know if he needs an assistant.

Zen said...

Anonymous 10:18-

He does just that, many times a year...and usually posts about it afterwards.

Former Deputy D said...

I labeled a possible Crime Analysis Manager as a he in my earlier comment. Sorry, what I meant to say was, "Let me know if he or she needs an assistant." No disrespect to any female out there taking an interest to sorting out crime data!!

Anonymous said...

Zen-

First, to be clear, I'm not being critical of the Chief or LPD. Secondly, my suggestion is to get the entire Command staff, not just him in the field for a day. The purpose of the exercise is to give them an extra perspective as to what is really important, to connect with the people on the teams, and to be able to prioritize which meetings are really important, and which ones are BS. Besides, even administrators should have some fun occasionally.

Powerpoint presentations, charts, graphs, spreadsheets and the like give you one perspective as to what is important. Cornhusker Highway at 2AM gives you another.

It would probably be a good idea to make sure each City Council member and the Mayor enjoy a ride every once in awhile.

The Chief and LPD are very innovative and rightly can be used as a model to follow for other departments like Aurora. We're on the same page in fact. Most meetings are targeted at administrators/management, not at the people on the street and advancing better results for them.

Sometimes I think management needs to leave the office, strap on the kevlar, and connect with those they serve, no matter what the business does. And when the day is finished, a debriefing with a cold beer or iced tea would be refreshing. Now THAT's my kind of meeting!

256

Anonymous said...

Zen,

While it's true the Chief does come out (rarely any captains), it typically isn't overnight. Now, that would be fun.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

Concerning incident B0-074530, my magic 8-ball gave me a "All signs point to yes" when I asked it the usual question. I think you know what I mean.

Do you think that the little round oracle is working correctly?