Strategic Planning in Policing Part III

Part I of this series looked at the history of strategic planning and how the New Public Management movement introduced the strategic planning process to the public sector.   Part II  looked at the actual strategic planning process including the need to conduct an environment scan and the formulation of vision and mission statements, and the establishment of core values.

This part will look at the formulation of goals, strategies, tactics, and performance  measures.

Although performing a meaningful environmental scan, and establishing a vision, mission and core values may seem daunting, the next steps are even more daunting. The formulation of goals, objectives, strategies and performance measures require the organization to put it ‘on the line’.  They are required to stipulate what their goals are, outline their strategy(s), list their objectives and most importantly, indicate how goal achievement will be measured.  Then, having said what they are going to do, they have to do what they said and report on their progress.   It is this aspect of strategic planning that leads to taking responsibility and ultimately being accountable not for outputs (activities) but rather outcomes (results).  Measurement of outcomes truly brings to bear Sir Robert Peel’s Ninth Principle which states:

 To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

Goals, Strategies, Objectives and Tactics – linking the present to the future.

What are Goals 

Goals are directly related to the vision and express what an organization is attempting to achieve, the new state of being compared to the present state.  In policing terms, if a particular city is experiencing high rates of crime in particular communities or its downtown area a reasonable goal (dependent on the vision) might be ‘a safe downtown’ or in the case of other communities, ‘communities where residents feel safe’.  By intent, goals are broad in nature and like vision statements should not eliminate options in terms of how the goal will be achieved.

What are Objectives

Objectives describe what must be done in order to achieve goals.  In terms of the previous example regarding downtown safety one objective might be ‘to reduce violent crime in the downtown area by a specific percentage within a given time frame’.   Because the term safety is such a broad term, a stated goal of ‘a safe downtown’ might require a number of objectives, each addressing a different aspect of safety.   Other objectives might be ‘to reduce incidents of drunk and disorderly behaviour and panhandling by a specific percentage’ and  ‘to reduce thefts from vehicles by a given percentage’.  All these objectives, if achieved, would contribute to the goal which is  making the downtown safer for businesses, residents and visitors alike.

What are strategies

Strategy is a term with military origins.  The early writings by Niccolo Machiavelli (The Prince) and Sun Tzu (The Art of War) clearly indicate that the concept of strategy, that is, a strategic approach  toward goal achievement, is not a new idea.  It was, however, only in the last century that businesses started seriously looking at using strategy as an effective business tool.  As mentioned in a previous post it was not until the advent of New Public Management that strategic thinking and strategic planning became accepted in the public sector.

Strategies are approaches or means that will be used to achieve objectives.  Going back to the downtown safety example, there are many different strategies that could be applied to the situation.  One strategy might be to simply do more of the same.  So if the police department was currently deploying foot patrol in the downtown area one strategy might be to deploy more foot patrols, ie if ten are good then 20 must be better.   An increase in numbers might be an effective strategy to address one aspect of the downtown safety issue,  ie drunk and disorderly conduct.  Other aspects of the safety issue such as break-ins to cars might be better addressed by another strategy such as the use of closed circuit television.  This means that a number of different strategies might be selected to address different aspects of the safety issue.

What are Tactics

Tactics drill down further and address the issue of not what should be done,  but how it should be done. If  a strategic decision were made to deploy foot patrols the tactical decisions would address the manner in which they are deployed in terms of what functions  they should perform, what hours they should work, areas they actually patrol, and whether they should be one or two person patrols.  In relation to CCTV,  tactical decisions would include where cameras should be located, whether to advertise their presence or if they should be covert, and if they should be live monitored.

What is Performance Measurement

Lastly, there is the  thorny issue of accountability and  performance measurement.  Most policing organizations report to a civilian oversight body such as a Police Board or a Police Commission.  Boards and commissions work with police to determine what the goals should be and serve as the accountability watch dog that police report to in terms of goal achievement.  Winnipeg is different.  It is one of the few cities, if not the only city, in North America where the Chief of Police reports to the Chief Administrative Officer of the city, and the police department has a reporting relationship to a standing committee of council (Committee of Protection Parks and Culture) and not a commission or board.  In the Winnipeg example this committee has never truly embraced its oversight function leaving the police somewhat  adrift in terms of accountability.

Most strategic plans have a status report or follow-up feature, at least annually.  Some organizations treat this as a report card or progress report if you will.    This accountability feature  helps ensure everyone within the organization is keeping their eye on the ball.  The greater the stress on accountability, the better the plan and the greater the likelihood of positive results.  Creating specific areas of accountability within a plan (actually naming a particular person or position within the organization as being responsible and accountable) is another positive feature.

The last word on performance measurement and accountability is this:  make sure you are measuring results (outcomes), not activities (outputs).  The purpose of a strategic plan is to achieve results, not itemize the busy work the organization plans to engage in.  Plans that stress activities or list activities that will be engaged in without direct links to goals and anticipated outcomes are of little use.

The next post in this series will examine several strategic plans for Canadian police departments.

RCMP Tight Lipped About Bousquet Investigation

In December of 2009 the media was in an uproar over the alleged use of excessive force by Winnipeg police when they arrested  Cody Bousquet.

Allegations of police misconduct filled the air.

In January of 2010 the Winnipeg Police Service decided to call in the RCMP to conduct a review of the incident.  The intent of the review was to determine if  members of the Winnipeg Police Service used excessive force in arresting Bousquet.  One of the reasons the RCMP was asked to do the review was that one of the officers involved was the current Chief’s nephew.

As the investigation has now been ongoing for close to 2 years I decided to follow-up to determine if any progress has been made.

I first contacted the Winnipeg Police Service to inquire as to the status of the investigation and received the following reply:

This investigation is being handled by the RCMP and therefore all questions pertaining to the investigation should be directed to them.

I then contacted the RCMP and asked them the same question.  The RCMP replied with this statement:

The RCMP is not in a position to comment on this specific matter at this time.

Generally, only in the event that an investigation results in the laying of criminal charges, would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of any charges laid and the identity of the individual (s) involved.

Despite the fact that the RCMP would seem to have a policy on not confirming they are conducting an investigation until such time as charges are laid, I found an interesting quote in an article by Chris Ketching where the RCMP did in fact comment on and confirm that they were investigating the Bousquet matter.

The RCMP has been made aware of this apparent contradiction.  No response at the time of this writing.

Winnipeg Police 2010 Annual Report Late – Again

Between March and September of 2011 the following western Canadian police departments released their 2010 annual reports:

Edmonton Police 2010 Annual Report,  released March 16th 2011.

Calgary Police Annual Statistical Report 2006-2010, released May 2011

Vancouver Police Department 2010 Annual Report, released in August 2011

Regina Police Service 2010 Annual Report,  released August 2011

Saskatoon Police Service 2010 Annual Report, released September 2011

Winnipeg Police Service 2010 Annual Report:  sorry, not yet released

This is the second year in a row that the Winnipeg Police Service annual report is late, and I mean really late.  This year we will be lucky to see the report released prior to 2012.

The Winnipeg Police Executive is fortunate they only  report to citizens and politicians.  If they were reporting to shareholders and a board of directors they would be toast!

Winnipeg Police Crimestat Maps Offer a Distorted View of Crime

There is a problem with the crime maps displayed on the Winnipeg Police Crimestat site.

If  you go on the site and draw up the map for District 1 (the downtown division) you get the following disclaimer:

Your filter selection returned 2060 incidents.  You are viewing the first 1000 crime incidents on your map window. Click on ‘view report ‘for complete crime incident details or refine your filter criteria further.

The Crimestat map for District 1, the downtown area for the period of January 1st  to November 25th 2011, displays only the first 1000 incidents reported in 2011 (Map 1).    Because the first 1000 incidents took place between January 1st  and June 24th 2011, a search for those dates will display the same map, the same 1000 incidents.

Map 1

Source: Winnipeg Police Crimestat (Retrieved on 11 11 27)

If you want to see a map that depicts the  crimes committed between June 25th and November 25th 2011, you will need to draw up a separate map. It will show the additional 1038 crimes not shown on the first map.  Map 2 displays those incidents.  Although the maps appear virtually identical, i.e. the crime pattern as largely unchanged,  subtle differences can be noted.

Map 2

Source: Winnipeg Police Crimestat (retrieved on 11 11 27)

In order to get a true view of crime in the downtown area you would need to be able to combine those two maps but the system does not allow that.

The same limitation applies when you request a map for any geographical area that has more than 1000 reported incidents.  When you draw up the city-wide map (8509 incidents reported between January 1st and November 25th 2011) the map only displays the first 1000 incidents.

Imagine what the maps would look like if you could see all incidents of reported crime!

The 18:1 Police Officer to Patrol Unit Ratio

This is the last in a series of posts dealing with the 4/10 shift schedule and will answer the question that has been previously raised: why does it take 18 officers to staff 1 two-officer patrol unit?

If you have not read my post on the 4/10 shift schedule you might want to read that first for some background on this posting.

Under the 4/10 shift schedule officers assigned to general patrol are divided into 2 platoons, A-Platoon and B-Platoon.  When A-Platoon is working B-Platoon is off and vice versa.  Except for overlap periods half the personnel in general patrol are off duty.

Each platoon is subdivided into 3 sub-platoons, which correspond to day shift, evening shift and midnight shift.

So right off the bat in order to field 1 two officer unit the police department must assign 2 officers to A1 platoon to work day shift, 2 officers to A2 to work evening shift and 2 officers to A2 to work midnight shift.  That’s a total of 6 officers on A-Side.  The same thing happens on B-Side which now brings us up to 12 officers.

In many work places the staffing plan may call for, say, 5 people performing a particular function.  If one is not available they simply operate with 4.   In the case of the police service the Collective Agreement must be factored in.  The Agreement stipulates that each shift  must start with  27 two-officer patrol units.

In order to meet the Collective Agreement requirement the Service must have available  a pool of officers that can be drawn upon in the event one of the 12 officers assigned to staff a patrol unit in not available to work. That brings us to the crux of the matter.  On average, how many hours a year are officers not available to work their assigned shifts and what is it that draws them away?

The following is a list that covers most of the issues that  draw officers away from being available to work their assigned unit:

Sick Leave

For some time sick leave within the Service has averaged around 60 hours per year per officer.  In the past officers were able to ‘cash in’ a portion of their unused sick leave upon retirement.  That provision was removed some years ago through the collective bargaining process.  There is a general concern within the Service that as the ratio of officers who do not have a sick leave cash out option increases,  sick leave use will escalate.

Court attendance The number of court appearances for officers is dependent on the number of arrests they make and the number of traffic tickets they hand out.  The bottom line is that once  a subpoena is served, there is no option – the officer must attend.

In the last decade a program has been instituted to reduce both the on duty and off duty hours officers spend in court.

Statutory Credit Leave  As part of the 4/10 shift schedule agreement between the City and the Winnipeg Police Association, officers are required to work statutory holidays as they fall.  The working agreement stipulates the statutory holidays that will be observed  and a formula is used to determine the average numbers of hours  officers work on statutory holidays.  The premium rate is then applied.  Instead of paying officers overtime for those hours worked they are provided with a Statutory Credit Leave (SCL) bank.  This is a bank of hours officers are required to take as time off during the course of the year in which it was earned.  Statutory credit leave works out to 149.5 hours per officer per year.

Temporary Assignments The Service  operates a number of units that are over and above the authorized complement.  As well, ad hoc working groups are created and assigned to special projects on an ongoing basis.  The staffing for these above complement and ad hoc working groups is largely drawn from the pool of uniform officers assigned to general patrol.  The number of hours of temporary assignment time varies from year to year.

Extras duty leave (EDL)  This is another time bank  in which officers are allowed (and in some cases encouraged) to accumulate time.  When officers attend court, or work overtime at the end of a shift, they generate overtime.  Overtime can be claimed as pay or can be accumulated as EDL.

For the most part officers in their ‘best five years’ (for pension purposes) will not accumulate EDL as under the Winnipeg Police Pension Plan overtime is pensionable income. Officers in their best five years, usually their last 5 years  prior to retirement, primarily take overtime in the form of pay.

Younger officers who have young families might well see the merits of taking their overtime in EDL so that they can take additional time off.

In any event officers who accumulate EDL must take it as time off and this draws them away from patrol unit duty.

Training All officers are required to participate in mandatory training on an ongoing basis.  Some training such as firearms re-qualification is an annual requirement while other training is less frequent.  As well, officers are drawn away from regular duties to attend out of province training at the Canadian Police College and other out of province training institutions.

Maternity Leave Under provincial legislation officers are entitled to go on maternity (and parental)  leave for extended periods of time.  This is a greater reality that as  the Service’s complement of female officers continues to grow there may be an impact on staffing in the future and an adjustment to the 18:1 ratio.

Annual Leave Annual leave (holidays) accounts for another 160-200 hours that officers are away from the work place.

Without getting totally bogged down in details, suffice it to say that when all these absences from regular duties are compounded  officers who work 2080 hours a year are only available to perform their assigned uniform patrol function for approximately 1400-1500 hours per year.

As mentioned earlier, 12 officers (6 on A-side and 6 on B-side) are required to field one unit 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  That works out to 24,960 (12 x 2080 ) person hours.  When officers are only available approximately 1400 hours per year to work patrol, that works out to  18 officers (24960/1400= 17.8).

Hence the 18:1 ratio.

Crimes Committed vs Crimes Reported

The Winnipeg Police Service tracks 10 specific criminal offenses on Crimestat.

During the month of September, 2011,  Crimestat reported that  for those 10 specific crimes,  787 offences were committed, city-wide.

In  September 2011 the Winnipeg Police Service issued 26 News Releases.  In those 26 news releases, however, the Service made reference to only 10 of the 787 offences reported on Crimestat during September.

The table below shows the disparity between offences committed and offences reported on:

Crime Type Offences committed Offences  reported
Commercial Break-In 65 0
Break-In (other) 157 0
Residential Break-In 211 0
Homicide 3 3
Commercial Rrobbery 43 3
Non-Commercial Robbery 111 1
Sexual  Assault 16 1
Shooting 3 3
Auto Theft 109 0
Attempted Auto Theft 69 0
Total 787 10

It is of interest to note that the September 27th release makes reference to an arrest of a suspect  for 6 commercial robberies committed on September 16th and 17th.  Information that this robbery spree was in progress might have been of interest to merchants in the  area on the  dates when it was taking place.

This brings to mind Brian Kelcey’s recent op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press in which he makes reference to running the City of Winnipeg on “spin”.

I suppose if the Police Service were to provide more information on muggings and sexual assaults it would become evident that the majority of those offences occurred in the downtown and the immediate north end of the city.  That would not be good for the image of the downtown which is being “spun” as safe.  During the month of September,  59 of the 111 muggings  reported city-wide were committed in District 1, which encompasses the downtown area.  The Crimestat map below shows what it looks like when these 59 offences are mapped:

Not a pretty picture and pretty difficult to spin.

When it comes to spin, George Orwell perhaps said it best, “He who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future”.

Unpuzzling the Mayor About Downtown Safety

Air Canada recently put out a directive to staff instructing them to no longer stay in downtown Winnipeg hotels citing safety concerns.  According to media reports, our Mayor is puzzled by this move.

The Mayor,  other politicians and special interest groups with a  vested interest in the downtown, have for years been perpetuating the illusion that the downtown area of Winnipeg is a safe place.

I suppose Air Canada’s refusal to ignore the facts is what is puzzling the Mayor.

The Crimestat Maps that follow depict the 8 types of crime tracked by Crimestat for the period for October 1st 2010 and October 1st 2011.  Map 1 shows the Portage South Community, Map 2 the Central Park Community, and Map 3 the Portage Ellice Community.  The maps (and statistic tables) for those 3 downtown communities show that in the previous calendar year there were 4 homicides,  111  muggings,  and 24 *  sexual assaults.

Map 1

                                                               South Portage Community

Map 2

                                                               Central Park Community

Map 3

Portage Ellice Community

Now let’s have a look at the St. James Industrial Community, where the Ar Canada staff will be staying.  This area  had no homicides in the last year, 6 muggings and 6 sexual assaults and a smattering of other property crime.

Map 4

                                                              St. James Industrial Community

If you are still puzzled Mr. Mayor why not go for a walk with the Chief of Police to Portage Avenue and Main Street, pull your collective heads out of the clouds and look what is happening on Portage Avenue.  Alternately have a close look at Crimestat and ‘visit’ some of the neighbourhoods in the downtown and the immediate north end and ask yourself how safe you would feel to live there.  And finally, do something about it.

Stop spewing the election time propaganda that policing and the safety of Winnipeg streets is a provincial problem.  It’s not.  It’s a City of Winnipeg problem.  It’s your problem and a Winnipeg Police problem.  Do your job and provide appropriate policy direction to the Police Service and hold them accountable to address the issue of crime on the streets of Winnipeg.

*  correction to original post

To Expunge or not Expunge

The Winnipeg Police Service is  requesting a change to the by law governing the retention of police discipline records.  Once approved by Council, disciplinary records will be expunged after five years of discipline free performance.

The Winnipeg Police Association has been pushing for such a change for some time.  What’s different about the current proposal is that it’s the  Winnipeg Police Service advocating for such a change.  The Winnipeg Police Association must have been in a position to use some leverage in order to persuade the Winnipeg Police Service to put forward this proposal.

Since the ruling in R. v. McNeil which required that the police turn over to the Crown disciplinary records for officers involved in criminal cases, police across the country have been attempting to find ways to avoid turning over such records.  In other words they have been looking for a sure-fire loop-hole.  Expunging police disciplinary records seems to be the answer.

The report submitted to EPC actually says that.

What is perhaps even more disturbing is the second portion of the proposed by law change that would require that an informal resolution process be considered in all disciplinary cases.  Cases handled informally would not generate an entry on a discipline record and therefore would never be subject to disclosure.  So the first part would expunge records that currently exist, and the second part would ensure few, if any, future entries on officers’ files.

To top it all off, according to a report in the Winnipeg Free  Press the Chief of Police is apparently taking the position that because criminals can apply for a pardon after 5 years it only makes sense that police officers should have their records expunged after 5 years as well.  Talk about lowering your level of expectations by comparing police officers to criminals.  Whatever happened to the principle of expecting the very best from police officers and holding police officers to a higher standard?  The Chief’s position on this is poorly thought out and just plain wrong.

It’s one thing for criminals to attempt to circumvent the intent of court rulings.  No surprises there.  We should, however, be entitled to expect more from our police.