By: Ken Crane, PLEA President
I along with two other board members recently attended the Department’s newly ramped up and mandated De-escalation training. It was realistic, common sense and relevant. Our class composed mostly of more seasoned officers, many from detective details and specialty units along with supervisors seemed to be unfazed by the material presented. Perhaps because it was simply a common sense back to basics approach of handling calls. A comment that jumped out at me [and I suspect, many others] during the training was when the instructor informed us that the fourth floor had assured them that our department is resource driven not numbers driven.
In other words, they [the fourth floor] want us to take the time and use all the necessary resources in order to slow things down and and allow us to handle calls properly to minimize unnecessary risk to officers and citizens alike. The fourth floor assured the training staff that slowing things down and using all necessary resources was far more important than putting recap numbers on the board.
If this truly is the belief of the fourth floor then why are so many in patrol feeling the push by Sgt’s and Lt’s to put numbers on the board? Why have we seen supervisors stapling recap printouts to monthly notes?
Why do we still have some supervisors promoting the asinine philosophy of telling their squads that they need to be above squad average on the numbers? Anyone with a basic understanding of math and statistics knows half of a group will always be below the average and half will be above. Giving ridiculous directives such as this merely drives the average out of sight meaning there will always be some who will never attain it an therefore in violation of not meeting squad average.
Why have we heard of officers being denied requested training because a Lt. thought their productivity numbers weren’t high enough but the same Lt. couldn’t provide a direct answer as to exactly what the productivity level should have been?
Why is tracking the numbers off such great concern that at least one precinct was making rumblings of going back to the old paper worksheets [this on top of the headaches already presented by a new and more difficult to use RMS system]?
Of course any supervisor when pressed about how many reports, arrests, tickets DR’s, or FI’s should be done will refuse to answer because to do so means a quota has just been established and nobody wants to be the first to pull the pin on that grenade. So, officers are left to dance around in the grey ethereal mist of the numbers world in order to determine just how much it takes to keep the boss happy.
But wait…Pinch yourself. The nightmare is over because we are now in a resource driven world not a numbers driven world.
Its time for the department to put their money where their mouth is and get off the numbers bandwagon. Its not fair to send mixed messages to the troops. Either we slow down and do things right or, we drive the numbers which usually translates into cutting corners, advising on calls and taking unnecessary risks in order to turn in the desired performance until the next catastrophe happens.
As a final point, first line supervisors are smart enough to know the difference between someone who is simply below squad average as opposed to someone who is a consistent non-producer.