Contrary to what the media commonly portrays, violent crime has been steadily dropping in the United States since the early 90s by as much as 50%!
But what has caused this massive drop in crime?
There are many theories with varying factors in play, including an increased number of police on the streets, an improved economic climate, and reduced alcohol and drug usage. There are even some strange theories suggesting that America’s increased reliance on psychiatric pills is helping to docile the general population, and in turn reduce crime.
One often overlooked explanation lies in technology. Crime tracking systems, body cameras, data aggregation and analysis software are just some examples of technology that are playing a major part in fighting crime. For example, Rochester, New York experienced a 40% decrease in gunshot incidents since implementing SpotShotter; a ballistic shot detection system that uses sensors to pin-point the exact location of a shooting within seconds.
Another technology that can have an indirect influence on crime reduction is one you may not have thought about in this light. Scheduling and workforce management software could be the unlikely key to mitigating and ensuring crime rates don’t climb back up.
Is there a link between staffing and safer communities?
While the link between crime prevention and scheduling may not be as black and white as some of the examples listed above, consider these three factors that may change your mind:
Poor Fatigue Management in Public Safety
The vast majority of public safety agencies are unable to effectively manage their overtime and fatigue rules properly. With a reliance on spreadsheets and paper processes for scheduling, the burden of manually tallying minimum hours between shifts and maximum hours per work week are placed on supervisors. It’s obvious that this process is prone to human error and when an error is made, it is usually corrected after the fact rather than proactively.
One study surveyed 5000 police officers in North America over an 18-month period. The results showed that 40% of the officers had at least one sleep disorder. Of those with a sleep disorder, 26% reported falling asleep while driving at least once per month . It is easy to see how fatigue can greatly impact your cognitive functioning and make it difficult for an officer to exercise proper judgement.
Deployment and Staffing Coverage
Many agencies have spent time and research in developing staffing models to help their departments effectively handle calls for service. But the question is, how are you managing the deployment and coverage for these peak hours? Manual systems place the burden on supervisors to ensure that coverage is always being met. It sounds relatively simple until you factor in numerous scheduling changes, leaves, shift swaps and general operational functions. The ability to have the right number of officers on the job is imperative to preventing crime in the first place.
Ensuring you Have Properly Trained Staff
When you are deploying staff , are you deploying officers with the right level of training and skills? Not only are you concerned about having enough bodies on the ground at the right time , you need to make sure you are properly covered in terms of trained and qualified staff. Certain activities or geographic areas have different training requirements and it can be difficult to ensure you are meeting minimum staffing requirements if you are doing everything on paper or spreadsheets.
Software and Crime Prevention
Calling scheduling software a crime fighting tool may be a bit of a stretch, but it does provide a proactive means of mitigating risks and liabilities while making the most effective use of your workforce.
Fatigue in law enforcement is not going anywhere, it is in the very nature of the job. However, we are doing the community and our officers a great disservice by not trying to reduce its effects on officer performance. Implementing fatigue rules such as ensuring a minimum number of hours between shifts and enforcing these rules will go a long way in proactively reducing crime.
InTime’s scheduling solution makes fatigue management effortless. The software will take your rules and warn or prevent schedulers (depending on your settings) from scheduling someone if that assignment will break your agency’s fatigue rule protocol. Taking that a step further, the system can warn or prevent people from being scheduled if they do not meet training criteria or removed from the schedule if it will put you below minimum staffing.
The software provides a quick visual representation of your staffing levels, allowing you to make sure you team is always appropriately covered. If someone is put on leave, the system will let you know if you need to backfill a shift . Backfill shifts can then be sent out to your staff for sign up for with the click of a button. This is just one of many examples of how you can take a traditionally time-consuming and error-prone process and condense that down to just a few seconds.
Hopefully, we have made a case for why scheduling software should be a must in every public safety agency across the country. Do you want your whole operations to be run on spreadsheets and paper or do you want something that is bulletproof? We put all our resources into training and creating a world-class police force, why are not doing everything to ensure that we get the most out of our officers?