Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Police Action-response to WashCityPaper Article

The article certainly points out the shortcomings of the 311 system, and the deluge of requests that are phoned in. I think that we all understand that in nearly every situation, the resources allocated to an issue are rarely enough for 100% attention. We know that there arent enough cops, or operators or caseworkers to handle every call the way that we think it should be handled.

It would be great if the cops would show up within 10 mins after you report your car stolen, or when shots are fired or when a hooker and john get done doing the nasty in the alley. Sometimes our expectations are set a little high.

We have seen several notations on this listserv of the good work that the MPD has done in responding to individual 911 calls in Bloomindale, Eckington and Eastern Shaw. The response to the recent spate of violence on Lincoln Rd, Todd Place and even recently on First St NW has been very good. That being said, prevention of these incidents are key, rather than waiting to cart off 3 wounded men in an ambulance.

All that being said, there needs to be a couple of things done to improve how policing and communications systems like 311-911 interact to reduce crime.

1. 311 and 911 operators need to have an updated Standard Operating Proceedure to triage and prioritize calls. I would assume that this is the case with 911, but perhaps a similar hierarchy could be created for 311. For instance: event in progress, event passed, theft, info only, cat stuck in tree etc.

2. Once these calls are triaged, there still needs to be follow-up by someone. In the IT world it is called a ticketing system. After each request has been taken, it is issued a 'ticket', after resolution, it is closed out. I would recommend that these cases be handled by a specific group or unit, rather than taking invaluable beat cops away from fighting crime, projecting a presence, and working on their community policing.

3. Metrics. The city has crime statistics for each MPD Ward, and PSA. Crime rate per 1000 or similar metric will give you those neighborhoods with the most need of resources. Additionally there are designated hotspots that are already supposed to be getting additional resources. If there are additional resources given to hotspots and the highest crime rate areas metrics can also be used to see if they are effective. Number of arrests and a reduction of crime incidents per month can be utilized to give an effectiveness rating for the cops.


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