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Interviews within the Police Service

A number of trends emerged from these interviews. First and foremost was the aging workforce challenge. It appears that recruitment is not keeping pace with departures, or rather, while there was a good intake, the promotion rate was not keeping up. Further, the Police Service is losing some valuable organizational know-how without doing anything about it, in terms of either retention or knowledge transfer. The expression "too damned busy" kept cropping up. The other factor, given that Hope City was in a cluster of urban development with similar services in nearby cities, was the theft of up-and-coming officers by other services. It was felt that Hope City had a good reputation for training new officers but then lost them to other services. There have been a lot of successes, too, in terms of transfers in and promotions. It just seemed to be taking a lot more time staying on top of things. The transaction costs of this churn were considerable.

Several senior officers expressed concerns about emerging crime issues. Some were evident already. Some may or may not be on the horizon. For instance, computer pornography and child exploitation seemed to be on the rise. There was some notion that some is based in Hope City although there was no firm evidence to confirm this. Certainly, at this point the Police Service did not devote many resources in this area. Some officers had become more skilled in this area, but the Service had yet to move on creating a unit devoted to investigating child pornography. On the other hand, the concern about the potential for the development of terrorist- type activity in some of the newly opened ethnically focused private schools was an issue. Senior staff members were very worried about this in two ways. If they focused on it too much, they might be accused of profiling and lose any hope of building the intelligence and confidence links they needed with emerging ethnic communities. If they did not take some reasonable steps to inform themselves of the kind of new policing challenges the world was bringing to their doorsteps, they would be negligent in active policing.

As a summary, the following crime rate trends were recorded:

• Generally following national and regional trends but rates slightly lower than the provincial patterns

• Overall decrease in the number of crimes, especially assaults on persons

• Decrease in homicide and related crime

• Slight increase of sexual assault, in isolated areas

• Decrease in robberies

• Increase in car thefts but a shift from individual thefts to more systematic patterns, suggesting a more organized approach

• Increase in credit card fraud

• Sharp increase in complaints or inquiries about identity theft with no real pattern emerging in the statistics

• Youth-on-youth assaults up, especially in a number of both ethnic and nonethnic housing projects that have police presence but little interaction with the community

• Increase in hate/bias crimes and complaints – full range from graffiti to personal threats

• Sharp increase in illegal ATM bank entries with a strong suspicion of organized crime involvement

More and more of the budget and management time are going to the information technology (IT) infrastructure. While direct entry from patrol vehicles has been in place for a couple of years now, it is mostly used by officers to download information that is already on the system rather than for direct input from their cars and station points. Summary data on contacts that would establish patterns of interaction, most notably among gang members and between gangs, is not yet regularly input. Further, the ability of Hope City to go anywhere on a COMSTAT[1]-type information management system is very low. Senior staff receive crime statistics on a weekly or monthly summary basis. The roll-ups are always questioned because of the amount of so-called dirty data they contain. This may also be why Hope City looks so bad in comparison with others. On the other hand, there was resentment of the amount of time that these administrative matters took. Reports and paperwork seem to have precedence over face time and street presence. Chief Paulson and his deputy were certainly aware of emerging technology trends, but to date there has been little internal interest in trying them out. This contrasts with one neighboring police service that has gone full tilt on geospatial intelligence analytics. This positions crime patterns onto maps to link trends to location. It also drives resource distribution.

Senior service personnel felt that they had real strengths in the area of joint task force work and collaboration with other police services. They pointed with pride to their major contribution on the recent biker initiatives, which saw several of the key biker houses or chapters closed down as well as some important arrests. They felt that they were not encumbered by a "my turf or else" mentality. They saw this as a plus for the line officers who got to work with counterparts. They also saw it as a link to public security issues at the national level, such as the protection of critical infrastructure that the bikers had targeted for copper wire and electricity diversion for grow operations.

  • [1] COMSTAT is a performance indicator tracking system using fast turnaround of information for senior manager review based on integrated computer technology. It is seen as being the most advanced accountability system in modem policing.
 
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