The use of data to inform public safety services is a mainstay for policing. To ensure their efforts meet these modern demands, the Orlando (FL) Police Department reimagined their analytical capacity over the last three years to launch a centralized crime center. This center houses a team of crime analysts with officers and detectives to inform day-to-day operations for patrol and investigations, as well as driving crime reduction strategies for the city.
The 2019-2023 OPD Strategic Plan was created to guide the department’s mission and goals to provide public safety for its community. Two strategic issues were emphasized within the Strategic Plan for OPD to further data- driven policing strategies to address public safety concerns and criminal activity. Strategic Issue #2 – Technology focused on improving technology resources and the coordination of all technology implementation. Strategic Issue #5 – Crime Center focused on developing a centralized analytical unit that combined civilian and investigative positions to enhance the OPD’s ability to use data before, during and after criminal incidents. .
To reach desired outcomes, Police Chief Rolón reassigned leadership staffing. In 2019, Lt. Jay Draisin was appointed to lead all efforts to implement new technologies and fully develop the Crime Center. He realigned crime analysis, forensic, and crime scene personnel and synthesized the technology available to the department for intelligence-led efforts.
Generating a Budget
To implement changes, OPD needed a budget for the Crime Center. They leveraged a variety of funding sources to support the human and technology changes for the Crime Center. Joining monies from city budgets, previous funding reallocation, and grants amplified the department’s purchasing power to update or buy new technologies. A total of four grants were used for the license plate reader (LPR) project and other existing allocated budget funds were used for furniture and computer equipment.
“We had heard of Real Time Crime Centers, but we didn’t know what it was. There was not a lot of information passed on aside from wanting to go in a more intelligence-led policing direction and incorporating that in a Real Time Crime Center. -OPD Stakeholder
Rotating Analysts, Crime Center Outreach
The decision to move all analysts to a centralized location enabled the department to further develop processes to produce timely and actionable information for operations. Collaboration improved and a greater standardization of analytical products and outputs was achieved. Appropriate workflows were established that more closely align with departmental goals and objectives and improvements to data access and quality were accomplished. The team work from the Center combined with the direct interactions in investigations supports investigative and strategic meetings on crime reduction.
Standardized Outputs and Products
Routine communication with members of leadership and analysts has allowed for a more standardized approach to the types of information produced. This has resulted in the Crime Center being utilized more regularly and routinely capture, process, analyze, and report information that is both useful and actionable. Regularly scheduled meetings with leadership have allowed these outputs to be discussed more in depth and created a culture of exploration and evaluation.
The expansion of the Crime Center, including additional analysts and sworn staff, has provided OPD with robust strategic and analytical support. Enhanced hiring protocols also ensured that incoming analysts both encompassed the necessary skillset for the job as well as safeguarding those individuals would be a good fit for the team and communal workspace nature of the Center. A fully staffed Crime Center has allowed the department to emphasize and optimize their goal of focusing on intelligence- and data-led policing strategies.
“We learned very quickly that the number one priority is personnel. You can have every technology, toy, all the bells and whistles, but without enough people to manage all the information, centers can’t be utilized correctly.” -OPD Stakeholder