Intelligence-Led Policing: Changing the Narrative in Greenville County
Our sheriff's office has many programs that it refers to as "community policing," but what it has historically lacked—and continues to lack with no proposals being advanced—is a policing strategy that unifies and directs key operational components to achieve and surpass identified reductions in crime and disorder. In sum: direction and accountability. We have incident response driven policing with a veneer of community policing: a model well past its prime despite the hard work of many to make it work.
Community policing is touted by many, but it is not a strategy. Ask a group of police executives to define it, and each will give you a different definition. For example, many consider community policing to be an ethical approach to policing framed around transparency, accountability, citizens as partners, and decentralized management. By itself, community policing, when done properly, will build trust with the police and provide legitimacy to the police, but it cannot reduce crime and disorder without being coupled with a policing strategy.
Paul Guy has a two-pronged approach. He will use community policing to establish trust, transparency, accountability, and relationships; and he will use intelligence-led policing to effect targeted reductions in crime and disorder by seizing illegal guns, targeting career offenders, and dismantling gangs and human trafficking networks.
Foot patrols, bike patrols, and police substations are disconnected—and possibly ineffective—activities in the absence of a unifying strategy. They are tactics not strategy. What the sheriff's office has is a fragmented structure split up among too many managers. The efficient and effective policing demanded by taxpayers requires police executives to implement a strategy that solves problems through coordinated planning. To do that, police executives need data and analysis of that data—they need an intelligence-led policing strategy.
Missing among the many activities of the sheriff's office is a streamlined leadership structure that unifies operations under an intelligence-led policing model. Intelligence-led policing is a problem-solving framework that uses data and rigorous analysis of that data to inform strategic planning and tactical deployment. Intelligence-led policing is a continuous process of leadership accountability for the prevention and reduction of crime and disorder. Leaders set objectives informed by analysis, and then motivate and unify the entire workforce to meet those objectives.
Intelligence-led policing necessarily demands collaborative partnerships across all branches within an agency, and interconnections with all neighboring policing agencies. Unlike community policing, it relies on centralization for efficiency and effectiveness, but it identifies and addresses problems within a community partnership. In sum, better-informed decisions based on evidence.
Intelligence-led policing simplifies the effective use of community policing resources through rigorous analysis and disciplined application. Police agencies—to include our sheriff's office—have long conducted crime analysis (data derived from crimes and incidents). Typically, they use that data to identify "hot spots" for intensive patrol, or pattern analysis of a series of incidents; however, intelligence analysis achieves a comprehensive operational framework that informs long-term planning, as well as the near-term use of resources.
A comprehensive operational framework of intelligence-led policing leads to a collaborative structure that unifies all components of a police agency in the concerted application of police resources: patrol officers, detectives, community action officers, and analysts work as a team outside the silos of their organizational chart. Police executives are held responsible for finding solutions and building teams within the department, and with other police agencies, nonprofits, private businesses, educational institutions, and other government agencies.
Intelligence-led policing will be implemented with the participation of the Deputies Advisory Committee, senior executives, and selected representatives of the community. Implementation will have three key initiatives: (a) an executive leadership team trained in the rigors of crime intelligence, (b) implementation of a comprehensive knowledge management program, and (c) the establishment of an Office of Strategic and Operational Intelligence directly accountable to the sheriff, undersheriff, and captains. This office will be initially staffed with four to five accredited criminal intelligence analysts who will have access to all data and will be empowered to establish relationships outside the sheriff's office that facilitate the most inclusive and accurate intelligence. Officers, detectives, and analysts will combine teams to form one team in a joint strategy that reduces specified crimes and removes identified career criminals.