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.