Most of my professional career has centred around customer service. Years of traditional customer service roles, involving relationship building and retail management, as well as many years in non-traditional customer service roles, such as law enforcement. The reason I say law enforcement is non-traditional when it comes to customer service, is because it is not often thought of in that capacity; however, it is absolutely a core principle of the job – or at least it should be.
What if more police organizations embraced this approach? What if customer service could be used as a strategy to reduce crime? Short answer …it can!
Afterall, the same model has been used successfully by asset protection teams for years. Being present and engaged within your community makes people less motivated to commit crime, as the likelihood of being caught and held accountable, is greater.
In law enforcement, patrolling a jurisdiction is one of the basic functions of the job. Let us call this function what it truly is: customer service. Although patrolling is a task not always thought of in the realm of customer service, make no mistake, this is one of its prime purposes as officers are present and engaged within the communities they serve.
During my law enforcement career, I learned first-hand how patrolling the streets of a city can be one of the best deterrents of crime.
Don’t believe me? If you are running a patrol squad, assign an officer and their marked police vehicle to be present at one of your city’s retail establishments that is most hit by theft, then tell me if another store becomes the most targeted that day instead.
Letting slip the task of patrol at your agency can bring negative, quantifiable results to your city’s wellbeing. I mean, a Patrol Officer is called that for a reason: they are meant to patrol. They are meant to be present and engaged.
To this point, I used to share with new officers that there are three Ps to police work:
PRESENCE – PUSHES – PROBLEMS
As in my above retail theft example, your presence will push problems to another area. Patrolling is an extension of an officer’s customer service role. You are servicing your customers – the community – by being out there in the community, being a visible, pesky, and insistent nuisance to those who wish to cause the community harm.
Visible officers deter crime and push those who wish to create victims somewhere else where police presence is not a priority. Presence will not stop criminals from being criminals, but it often temporarily delays their actions until they find a more suitable environment to facilitate their nefarious activities. If a police agency is good at making this model work, that “more suitable” environment for crime becomes a place outside their jurisdiction. Being present in your community makes your neighbouring cities feel the effects, but those who sign your paycheck – the taxpayers you swore to protect – will feel it too, only in a much more positive way.”
In today’s policing, officers assigned the critical task of patrol are often bogged down by excessive administrative duties. These duties include completing paperwork, uploading photos and video and inputting data into a records management system. These are an important and very necessary part of an officer’s job. These duties can also be the result of an officer doing their job extremely well and their high initiative and proactive strategies may be the cause of these additional tasks. This type of behaviour is to be lauded, no doubt. However, it leads to a vicious cycle. A cycle in which desired behaviour removes an officer from the important task that got them there in the first place: their core responsibility of patrol. We need officers patrolling our streets and keeping our communities safe. We also need officers to accomplish this without the burden of excessive administrative tasks.
PRESENCE – PUSHES – PROBLEMS
However, in no way should we sacrifice administrative duties to keep officers in the field. I think you are beginning to see the dilemma!
Administrative duties are necessary in the day-to-day work of officers. It is a major piece of the overall puzzle, supporting the goal of holding people accountable for their actions and making real change in communities. If administrative duties are not completed, or are not completed properly, all your agency’s hard work is for nothing.
The paperwork produced during these administrative tasks not only tells the story of what occurred and what an officer did, it paints a picture used by prosecutors to make informed charging decisions. Perhaps equally important, these tasks place crucial, historical data at an organization’s fingertips in the form of actionable intelligence.
These tasks are massively important for an organization. However, doing it the way it has always been done can lead to that vicious cycle of counterproductivity, mentioned above.
This is not the answer. But is there an answer? Is there a different way than how it has always been done? The answer is yes. Yes, there is.
Today, in all aspects of life, leveraging technology to work smarter, not harder, has never been easier. Police work is no exception. The way it has always been done is not the way it has to be done now. Time’s been endlessly rolling down the road and we are effectively in the future. A future that allows police departments to be more efficient and more productive.
With the proper tools, officers can now complete most of their administrative tasks in the field, without skipping a beat (pun intended). Organizations around the world are seamlessly intertwining patrol work with most of their administrative tasks, hitting two jailbirds with one stone (metaphorically speaking, of course). Not only are they saving their officers time, keeping them in the field providing customer service to the community and reducing crime by being more present, they are saving the time of records staff who traditionally would need to scan paper documents into records management systems or otherwise manage this information in some form or fashion.
I left law enforcement after fourteen years of service. I left a career with a mission. I stopped working alongside my brothers and sisters in blue so I could continue to support them and the mission in a different capacity.
I am passionate about customer service and the results it can bring, not only for the private sector, but for the public entities that are tasked with our safety. Joining Altia was one of the best ways I could see to impact the mission outside of law enforcement. By helping get Altia’s Verinote product in the hands of first responders, I could help make a difference. Verinote is how the organizations I mentioned above are excelling at productivity, as it accomplishes tasks in the field that traditional police methods cannot. Unless you have skipped down here to the end, you recognize the importance of field-based policing strategies, and the seamless upload of evidence and collected materials that helps keep officers in the community instead of at a station or behind a desk. Imagine your organization being able to completely change the way you capture and access digital evidence and information. Imagine having real-time access to intelligence, quickly and easily. Imaging being able to live-monitor active and evolving critical incidents, providing timely and constant updates to arriving and incoming assets. Imagine being able to collect intelligence and manage your covert operations, securely from the field. Imagine all of this, integrated with your records management system while allowing for automatic redactions, decreasing the workload of your administrative and records staff. Now, imagine all these benefits in a highly searchable format, providing endless amounts of value for the future of your agency.
Congratulations… you’ve just imagined Verinote and visualized how it can help your officers, your professional staff, and your community. Altia would love to help your agency be more PRESENT in your city, and to help PUSH crime out of your jurisdiction so you can deal with less PROBLEMS in your day-to-day work and start putting more focus on your most important role: engaging your community.
Author: Tay Jones