Explorations in Policing, Faith and Life (With a hint of humor, product reviews, news and whatever catches my attention)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Future of Policing

As I look into the future I see a fundamental shift in policing as it concerns its present organization. Currently there are a multitude of police departments of all shapes and sizes that have concurrent jurisdictions. For example the police department I work for shares jurisdiction with Cook County Sheriff's Police and Illinois State Troopers along with sharing some ares with Cook County Forest Preserve Police not counting Illinois Secretary Police and all the rest.

I believe eventually there will be a shift toward an Israeli model of law enforcement. In Israel the municipal police force is a national police force that covers the entire country. What logically will occur is that there will be a consolidation from separate municipal police to a system wide state police, with multiple jurisdictions, each current police department being a different zone/area/district.

There are three main reasons for this shift. Cost, efficiency/duplication and information dissemination.

1. Cost-economy of scale. The largest expenditure and concern for all cities is their pension obligations. Currently all of the different municipal police departments are paying into and controlling their own pensions within state guidelines. By increasing the payment and participation pools you can lower costs and increase investment returns. The same can be said for health insurance costs. Further equipment purchasing would be much cheaper because of the volume of equipment to be purchased.

2. There is a lot of duplication of services between departments. For example our investigation division handles homicides, financial crimes, identity thefts etc. However, because of this generalization most of our investigators have limited contact with each crime. However with one state wide police force you could set up separate bureaus that would specialize in homicide, identity theft, etc. Then each serious incident would be handled by an expert in that field rather than a generalist. This problem has all ready been identified and there are multi-agency task forces for serious crimes to solve this problem. The success of these task forces suggest that this trend will continue. Further there would be dedicated traffic divisions etc that could cover all policing duties, better knowledge and experience equals higher solution rates with less investigation time.

3. Terrorism-information dissemination. Currently information is passed from department to department through a number of different and impersonal methods (e-mail, flier, LEADS messages) since each department has different general orders, priorities and procedures much of the information that should be passed along is not. With a single state wide department information protocols would be standardized and with similar and pre-stated priorities. Right now most of the information that is collected by a host agency stays with that agency. Terrorism detection is about finding patterns and strange behavior that could indicate terrorists in the planning stage. These actions, while troubling but not criminal, do not get transmitted form one source to the next.

The biggest problem for this implementation is the same question asked two different ways. "Which Police Chief is going to give up his or her title from Chief and become a district commander with a greater number of police in oversight over him?" and "Which town is going to give up control of their police force to an agency that may not respond to their concerns or bow to the leaders of their cities?"

I believe need will over come these two questions. There is not enough tax money to continue operating in this manner and second public safety will trump over local public control.

-that's my prediction-

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