Measuring Performance in a Modern Police Organization

Source: Malcolm K. Sparrow, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety (2008-2014), New Perspectives in Policing Series, March 2015

From the summary:
Policing in America is at a turning point. For two decades the emphasis in many departments has been on relentlessly driving down reported crime rates, often using technical means, aggressive street-order maintenance tactics, and huge numbers of arrests. While effective crime control still counts, recent events have highlighted the importance of paying attention as well to means, moderating policing styles, respecting constitutional rights, eliminating bias, using no more force or coercion than necessary, and engaging effectively with communities. The puzzle of how to define success in a more appropriate, more comprehensive, and more balanced way – and then how to measure it – is tackled in Measuring Performance in a Modern Police Organization by Malcolm K. Sparrow, a member of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety and Professor of the Practice of Public Management at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)…..

….This report demonstrates how the two classes of metrics that still seem to wield the most influence in many departments — crime reduction and enforcement productivity — would utterly fail to reflect the very best performance in crime control. Real success in crime control, would mean spotting emerging problems early and suppressing them before they did much harm. This performance depends on vigilance, nimbleness in response, and skill. Curiously, success of that type would not produce substantial year-to-year reductions in crime figures, because genuine and substantial reductions are available only when crime problems have first grown out of control. Neither would best practice produce enormous numbers of arrests, coercive interventions, or any other specific activity; because skill demands economy in the use of force and financial resources and rests on the production of artful and well-tailored responses, rather than extensive and costly campaigns…..
Related:
Did Performance Measurement Cause America’s Police Problem?
Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing, June 4, 2015

Some argue it can be traced back to how departments evaluate their officers.