Monday, February 25, 2013

Budget woes

I spent last Friday in Cleveland, as a guest at a meeting of the Northern Ohio Violent Crime Consortium.  NOVCC is a group of eight of the largest police departments in the region, who are all working on projects to improve their analytical capability, in order to practice what is known as intelligence-led, or information-led policing.  The basic concept is to use the techniques of crime analysis to drive policing strategies that are more effective and efficient than merely responding to radio calls and investigating each case independently.

My role at the meeting was twofold.  I gave two short presentations, both on topics extensively discussed here on the Director's Desk.  My second role was to critique the ILP plans of the participating agencies, after a series of half-hour presentations by each city. These were very interesting to me, and I took copious notes.

Driving these agencies move towards ILP is the new budget imperative: the necessity of doing more with less. Nebraska for the most part has avoided the most severe effects of the economic downturn, whereas these Ohio agencies are in the geographic heart of the recession.  I talked with three agencies during breaks who are forced to operate from 15% to 25% below their authorized strength due to their municipal budget woes.

This is a budgeting practice I oppose.  We all understand that times are tough, but if we only have the funds for 75 police officers, that's what the budget book and the organizational chart should reflect.  To claim that the authorized strength is 100, when the money is actually there for only 75 is an illusion, and obfuscates a reality of which citizens and elected officials should be keenly aware.

It was an informative day, and I really had a good feeling that my participation was helpful and productive. The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio plays a key role, and academic partners such as the University of Akron and Kent State University are also working with NOVCC. It is an impessive collaboration, and I was honored to be asked to help them navigate the path towards information-led policing.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How many unfunded and thus unfilled positions in PDs nationwide were originally federally-funded (100,000 cops etc), but then were left unfunded when the fed funds went away?

Steve said...

You need to figure out a way to use some volunteer help to "do more with less". I'm sure there are several who frequent your blog that would help. :)

E Meyer said...

As you said, Nebraska has been fortunate to have not felt the woes of budget cuts as other states have. However, I argue this is a time when Nebraska agencies can learn from those who have to work more efficiently. During the 90's and into the 21st century, government, especially police agencies became accustomed to doing more with more. The economic crisis has eliminated this luxury, however, agencies are still expected to do their job with fewer personnel and resources. Although Nebraska has not had to cut finances as much as others, police agencies in Nebraska can still learn how to do their jobs in a more efficient manner and using the latest data compiling technologies, combined with cooperation among all agencies, with relentless follow-up is a method where organizations can accomplish much more than they can on their own. In other words, efficiently pulling as many levers as possible.

So when you go to these meetings to teach and learn the latest crime preventive methods, I think this is a wise investment and a grand opportunity for Nebraska law enforcement.

Tom Casady said...

E,

I agree completely. Lean organizations learn to be efficient out of necessity.

6:53,

I looked around to see if I could find any data on this, and came up empty handed. It's a good question, and I suspect that lots of the really hard-hit cities had to cut FTEs during the recession, after they used Federal funding for some added positions in the 1990s and early 2000s.