Part X: The Essence of NC4 Street Smart®: System Results
By John Bennett
Assistant Chief (retired), Tampa PD
Principal Consultant, NC4 Public Safety
NC4 has introduced a blog series titled “The Essence of NC4 Street Smart: A 12-part Blog Series”, to share with our readers what the ‘essence’ of our law enforcement solution, Street Smart, really is. This post is the 10th blog in this series.
When an agency looks for supporting technologies to provide the best outcomes for them, and for the respective community, in the end of that due diligence journey, there are really only two types of solutions - preventative and reactionary.
There is a reason law enforcement, as a discipline, has been dubbed “first responders” as opposed to “first preventers.” The industry has done a good job for decades showing up to scenes on time and providing a fair level of service to serious and troublesome incidents. Agency leaders have done a great job providing the necessary resources to the front lines to “react” to a myriad of situations. Since the culture of success has been constructed around playing “defense” very well, it is understandable why disrupting the model from reactive to proactive can be a leadership challenge. NC4 Street Smart® can smooth out that challenge and help to make agencies have lower crime rates, better officer safety, and improved community trust.
In terms of supporting technologies, the only proactive tool in the policing toolbox is information. The idiom that “knowledge is power” also lends itself to the reverse: a lack of information and communication is then an organizational weakness. Translated to the streets of crime, criminals benefit when police officers, deputies, analysts, and detectives either lack, or do not possess a system or platform to share information, and especially when it is not generated and shared in true, real time.
Before buying any technology, an agency head should ask a three-tiered, compound question. First, what are we buying and why are we buying it? Next, what does it do? Lastly, how will we know if it succeeded in what it was supposed to? This is the short course to an evidence-based, results-based, due diligence process to get the most for your team and the taxpayers. System-wide results translates that the toolbox is good for the individual, the group or team, and the community altogether. Often agencies buy a tool, versus a toolbox, and it serves only a small function of the organization’s needs.
When it comes to hardware and software policing technologies, they can be placed into several capability buckets to include: administration or management, analytics, strategy, mapping, and tactics. Management (or administration) can be anything from email, scheduling, and time-keeping software, but typically not for CJIS secure crime fighting. Analytics link structured data to facilitate connections and create hotspots. A strategic tool can be making the agency’s strategic plan actionable through technological-based processes to obtain a standardized behavior, also known as business intelligence. Mapping technologies help create visual comparisons and correlations. Tactical technologies, especially sensors and alarms, like license plate readers and gunshot detection systems, can be programmed to send signals to react to situations.
Street Smart is a revolutionary, true real-time, evidence-based, intelligence-led policing technology that has all the aforementioned attributes. Street Smart maps strategic crime and results-based processes into a frontline, tactical technology that allows analytical decision support known as “Sense-Making.” Managing what’s important now (or going for the W.I.N) to each end-user in real time harnesses the phrase of knowledge is power, but only if it is shared, and shared fast. Street Smart is proactive by reversing the “first responder” ideology to “first preventer” by providing real-time information in the right amount, at the right time, to the right people, for the right reason.
This proactive-based method works through peer-to-peer crowdsourcing activities. Before, officers traditionally went home after each shift, with each person leaving their data in the dark. Certain industry leaders suggest the best agencies use a stratified approach toward crime reduction to support the why-to-buy question, whether they need the technology at all, and if they can afford it. Street Smart, being a fraction of the cost of many, single-purpose technologies, lays the necessary foundation to place the power of real-time Knowledge Management and Sense-Making into the hands of the agencies’ frontline personnel to stay safe, lower crime, and build community trust through de-randomization of effort. This embedded process within Street Smart, along with its adaptive configuration capabilities to grow with an agency’s strategic journey, will help to provide the why-to-buy of additional, supportive and typically reactive-based technologies and obtain those system-wide results.
In 2002, the Tampa Police Department set out to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for its communities. By 2008, TPD realized a -52% drop in UCR Part One Crimes, but hit a plateau after 67- months of consecutive reductions. The author of this blog series, John Bennett [retired Assistant Chief from T.P.D.] and a small, caring team of crime-fighting innovators discovered a process to not only break through the 2008 plateau, but to take the agency down an additional -51% in Part One Crimes. In 2012, this was embedded into NC4 Street Smart as a way to pave the journey forward to fellow agencies who either wish to reduce crime further or sustain their current reductions while keeping their troops safe and gaining community trust.