Chief Medrano has over thirty years experience in public service, including eleven years as a Police Chief and two years as a City Manager. He's been the President of both the California Police Chiefs Association and The Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association, and recently served the Attorney General as the Chief of the Division of Law Enforcement (DLE) for the CA Department of Justice. I was able to sit down with him and chat about data-driven decision making in law enforcement and why it’s the direction that all agencies should be moving toward. The post that follows is a summary of our conversation.
A Brief History
Crime reduction in law enforcement has evolved over the years. From hotspot policing, to Compstat, to predictive policing, the models for addressing crime have changed with the availability of more data. While all of these techniques have their pros and cons, it’s time for the next iteration of policing to emerge: data-driven decision making.
By integrating the best of the previous techniques and using the unprecedented amount of data that is now available to law enforcement, agencies can make better decisions on how to address crime. The key is taking all of the different systems that, right now, aren’t talking to each other and view them under one pane of glass to avoid the gaps that lead to misinformation.
It’s not that law enforcement doesn’t have enough data to make decisions; it’s that we have so much data but it’s not effectively integrated to fight crime. All of the different systems, like LPR, CAD/RMS, and crime analysis tend to be viewed individually, which doesn’t lead to effective crime reduction strategies.
When agencies have a holistic understanding of crime in their jurisdiction, they can better allocate their resources. This is important not just because most agencies are facing a staffing crisis, but also because it’s a key to explaining to the community why you’re policing in a particular manner.
When an agency leader is able to show - with data - why certain types of enforcement actions are being taken, or why officers are being deployed to a particular location, it furthers the community’s trust in the police and can guard against allegations of over policing certain communities. It also helps to protect those who are not involved or connected to crime from being confronted by the police, which is an important story that leaders need to be able to honestly tell the community.
For a data-driven approach to crime reduction to be successful, it’s important to define clear, measurable outcomes, and have the flexibility to adapt to what is/isn’t working and to changes in crime. Evaluations of effectiveness should be done in small, micro-slices rather than looking at the effects across a broad scope or lengthy timeline. It’s a constant evaluation of what is working and what isn’t, and then making the appropriate changes to enforcement strategies. And without data to back up those evaluations, it’s difficult to know what to tweak to get the desired results.
Not only is it important to be transparent with the community, it is equally important to inform line officers, supervisors, and commanders why they are being asked to conduct certain types of enforcement. They need to understand the concepts that are at the root of data-driven enforcement decisions, and what the expected outcomes are. Too often, officers are just told what to do without being told the “why”, but to be successful - and to gain buy-in from line staff - they have to be included in the conversation and understand they are a key part of the solution. Cops can relate to following the data, and when they see that this technique works they are more inclined to support leadership’s efforts.
Personnel and Training
These concepts are not only applicable to fighting crime; they also can be used for organizational improvements. Being able to view multiple streams of personnel data in one place is key to evaluating performance and identifying training needs. A tool like Truleo, which can analyze 100% of officers’ interactions with the community, provide trends across multiple levels of the organization, and facilitate review and playback of every video brings the benefits of data-driven decision making to personnel and training. When agencies can identify trends - both good and bad - early, they can make informed training decisions and measure the success of that training in a way they haven’t historically been able to. More importantly, it gives the agency the data to show officers what works to, say, de-escalate a situation, reduce non-compliance, or increase professionalism.
Chief Medrano - Advisor
FORMER PRESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA POLICE CHIEFS ASSOCIATION
FORMER CHIEF OF DIVISION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
Chris Sansone - Host
DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC PARTNERS
Truleo analyzes police body camera videos using artificial intelligence to help promote police professionalism. Truleo worked with FBI National Academy alumni to build the models that deconstruct officers’ language into professionalism and risk metrics to help agencies promote best practices, train new officers, and mitigate risk. To learn more about Truleo’s mission to improve trust in the police with body camera analytics, visit www.truleo.co.