It’s no great secret that city governments are spending a lot more money for law enforcement than they did only 10 years ago. Even prior to our current economic crisis, the rising cost of law enforcement raised serious debates among municipal leaders and police executives about how to pay for policing. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. What’s driving up police costs?
One clear factor is the rising cost of personnel. As populations grow, spending on police services tends to increase as well. Higher salaries for sworn personnel and the escalating price of benefits are significant contributors. Another general factor is that police work has gotten a lot more complex. Mid-to-senior level supervisors now have more regulatory compliance requirements that are labor intense and time consuming.
And let’s face it -- many agencies are still using manual operational processes that are archaic.
Rather than benefiting from today’s technologies, some agencies are stuck in the ‘this is the way we’ve always done it' mindset. That’s really too bad, since one way to reduce the relative cost of policing is to use technology to boost productivity. But in the word of one of my favorite song writers, Mr. Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changing”. And now it seems that tight budgetary constraints are actually forcing a paradigm shift.
I believe that the next decade will be one of incredible creativity when it comes to how agencies are being run.
The status quo simply isn’t going to work going forward. Now more than ever, law enforcement agencies have got to develop ways of doing things more efficiently when it comes to managing their workforce. In terms of technology, agencies can no longer accept weak and under developed ‘Admin’ modules provided by traditional CAD, RMS and JMS vendors. No longer can agencies expect scheduling tools to meet the needs of complete personnel management systems. No longer can they piecemeal together 3, 4 or 5 stand-alone products just to get by. And certainly now, agencies can no longer depend on manual or paper processes.
As an Industry software provider of the AgencyWeb® suite of products, I speak from experience. Orion’s Intelligent Workforce ManagementSM software eliminates stand-alone or marginally beneficial systems and the cost associated with their maintenance. AgencyWeb® IWM takes on complete end-to-end personnel management to include budget-based scheduling, overtime, leaves, biddings, assets, union rules or collective bargaining agreements and much more.
Secondly, AencyWeb® shares data with existing Public Safety systems as needed to eliminate gaps. It provides the ability to actually compare and contrast policing efforts with cost. Knowing what the cost really is of writing a citation, DUI or subpoena delivery and how those costs impact overtime, leave-time, comp-time, daily expenses and more enables supervisors and command staff to truly get their arms around the cost of policing.
The next 5 years will be challenging for us all.
Yet if we continue to innovatively rethink how our law enforcement workforce is managed and use technology as an aid in cost containment, we’ll come through this decade with a new, more efficient policing model.