The use of data to inform public safety services is a mainstay for policing. To ensure their efforts met modern demands, the Orlando (FL) Police Department began a three year process of reimagining their analytical capacity to launch a centralized crime center.
Strengthening an organization’s analytical abilities is framed by three important sectors: leadership, people, and technology. IDEA Analytics partnered with OPD and performed assessments to understand and improve the department’s performance in these areas.
Dr. Jessica Herbert, IDEA’s CEO, administered a Leadership – People – Technology evaluation that assessed five domains of organizational analytical capacities. Testing included individual and group interviews, site visits, and technical assistance sessions. This allowed IDEA to identify opportunities for enhancing resources, developing strategies, and ensuring equitable services for the community.
IDEA’s final recommendations and implementation plan gave OPD’s leaders clear instructions for advancing the Crime Center’s objectives, expanding capacity, and synthesizing technology use. The center houses a team of crime analysts consisting of officers and detectives who inform day-to-day operations for patrol and investigations. The analysts also drive crime reduction strategies for the city.
The 2019-2023 OPD Strategic Plan was created to guide the department’s mission and achieve its goal of providing public safety for the community. Within the plan, focus was placed on two strategic issues (Strategic Issues #2 and #5) so that OPD could further data-driven policing strategies, address public safety concerns, and counter criminal activity.
Strategic Issue #2 was designed to administer technology that would improve the department’s tech resources and refine the coordination of all technology implementation. This included projects such as record management, call dispatch system upgrades, and video surveillance along highways.
Strategic Issue #5 was the implementation of a Crime Center focused on developing a centralized analytical unit that combined civilian and investigative positions. This would enhance the OPD’s ability to use data before, during, and after criminal incidents.
To achieve the desired outcomes for each Strategic Issue, Police Chief Rolón reassigned leadership staffing. In 2019, Lt. Jay Draisin was appointed to lead all efforts in implementing new technologies and developing the Crime Center. He realigned crime analysis, forensic, and crime scene personnel. Lt. Draisin also synthesized the technology available to the department for intelligence-led efforts.
Generating a Budget
To carry out these changes, OPD needed a budget for the Crime Center. They leveraged a variety of funding sources to support the human and technology advancements. Combining resources 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 develop processes that produced timely and useful information for operations. Key achievements included a significant improvement in collaboration and a greater standardization of analytical products and outputs.
Appropriate workflows were established that aligned more closely with departmental objectives and there were significant improvements in data access and quality. The teamwork from the Center combined with the direct interactions in investigations supports investigative and strategic meetings on crime reduction and drives OPD’s mission forward.
Standardized Outputs and Products
Routine communication with leadership and analysts has allowed for a more standardized approach to the types of information produced. This allowed more regular utilization of the Crime Center to capture, process, analyze, and report information that’s useful and can be acted upon.
Regularly scheduled meetings with leadership have allowed these outputs to be discussed in greater detail. It’s also created a thriving culture of exploration and evaluation.
The expansion of the Crime Center, which included additional analysts and sworn staff, has provided OPD with robust strategic and analytical support. Improved hiring protocols ensured that incoming analysts possessed the necessary skillset for the job and guaranteed they would be a fit for the team and communal workspace of the Center.
A fully staffed Crime Center has allowed the department to fulfill their goal of focusing on intelligence-led and data-led policing strategies. By understanding and growing their analytical capacity, OPD was able to build collaboration within the department and create open channels for accessing information. Implementing these changes was critical to ensuring public safety concerns were relieved and that the community became safer as a whole.
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“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