Police Practice: Productivity Analysis for Basic Police Patrol Activities
Herndon, Roy H.,, III, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Law enforcement officers prove valuable to their communities in a variety of ways, not all of which can be measured easily. To this end, agencies often struggle to find methods to fairly evaluate their personnel. Departments must give factors, such as officer competence and courtesy, appropriate weight. Managers need to value the quality of the tasks performed and not focus only on the quantity.
However, fully and accurately evaluating personnel does require a fair measurement of productivity. "Understandably ... law enforcement organizations do not condone 'quotas' .... Rather, each agency does have certain expected levels of performance that they attempt to monitor officers' performance by. The key is in developing some realistic measurement devices that will substantiate that the officer is working and that this work is meaningful to the community." (1) While departments must avoid mandating specific numbers for performance criteria, they still can gauge an officer's productivity by analyzing certain measurable activities related to the job. This then can provide useful insight for incorporation into the employee's overall evaluation.
The Conway, Arkansas, Police Department has a system in place to conduct quantitative, employable measures of its officers' performance. Further, it has found that in response to fair and meaningful evaluation, its personnel strive for higher standards. "When employees feel their hard work counts for something, they strive to do their best." (2)
Daily Activity Report
The officer's daily activity report collects the raw data for eventual use in the monthly productivity analysis report for the shift. The information is divided into two control areas: 1) items that the employee has no control over (e.g., assignments from dispatchers, such as calls for service, incident reports taken, accidents worked, and alarms responded to) and 2) areas that the officer has total control over (e.g., contacts with citizens or violators, citations written, warnings issued, and arrests made). Each agency can make its own assessment of which functions fit into each category and design its daily report accordingly. By examining these two control areas, departments can analyze an officer's activities and compare them with the time afforded the individual to perform those duties.
In the daily activity report used by the Conway Police Department, the "criminal arrest" and "traffic arrest" sections represent the total control area, while "reports and calls" pertains to the no-control category. The "hours spent" portion reveals the total number of hours available for police patrol functions. Agencies must ensure that they retain documentation of every call and activity. The Conway Police Department keeps warnings in writing and records miscellaneous other calls in the narrative area of the daily report. Then, the items can be compared with the dispatch log to verify that personnel did not miss or drop any calls or attempt to pad their statistics with fictional activities. While it may seem time consuming to verify each officer's daily report, this task requires only a small portion of the shift commander's day.
Monthly Activity Report
The officer's monthly activity report lists, by day, the totals from each section of the daily reports. Hours scheduled on duty usually will equal 40 per week, on 8- or 10-hour shifts, totaling between 160 to 190 per month. The number of hours available for police patrol activities equals those scheduled on duty minus those spent on detail. Departments may differ on what constitutes time on detail; the key is to apply a uniform standard for all personnel. The Conway Police Department considers time on detail as any activity that takes the officer away from normal patrol functions during the scheduled work day, excluding meal and rest breaks as officers remain subject to call at these times. …