Like you I listened to our new governor give his first State of the State address. While I didn’t hear anything in the speech about public safety (my favorite topic). I did hear discussion of the use of metrics to evaluate an organization’s effectiveness and to some extent its efficiency. It may be a new idea at the state level but no so much at the local level. We continuously use metrics here at the AHPD to evaluate ourselves and how we are doing. Crime Clearance is one of the most important measures of police effectiveness. Cases of reported crime can be cleared in one of two ways: arrest and exceptional clearance. Exceptional clearance means that we know who did the crime but can’t prosecute for a variety of reasons like they are dead or unavailable to us for some other reason. While police can’t control whether people choose to report crime it IS important what we do with the crime that is reported to us and whether we use methods that are effective in producing an outcome.
During the State of the State I heard some discussion of consolidation and its value. The Governor seemed to be of the opinion that consolidation of local units of government (which presumably would include police) has value. I know that one of the criticisms of local government is that there is too much duplication of services and the logic follows that bigger is then better. Despite that conventional wisdom, at least in police efficiency the facts seem to say otherwise. I always wondered why we DO keep all these local units and have for such a long time if it is cheaper and better to consolidate? I keep hearing that “fiefdoms” of the local folks are what is getting in the way.
Maybe not. Maybe the reason is something different. Maybe there is a different conventional wisdom outside the I496 beltway in Lansing. Maybe it has to do with effectiveness.
Every year I spend some time at the beginning of the year looking at crime clearance statistics for our agency to measure our effectiveness. It has been a goal of ours for 5 or more years to improve our ability to close cases. We do that because we believe that our community wants us to be courteous, fair and EFFECTIVE.
I was looking at the FBI’s crime clearance rates and I came upon what seems to be an interesting fact, since we are talking about metrics. It appears that smaller police agencies are more effective at producing crime clearance than ones in larger cities. I always like to make comparisons over a period of time so that you can more easily see trends:
|COMPARISON 2005-2009 OF FBI CRIME CLEARANCE RATES NATIONAL AVERAGE|
|Population group||Violent crime||Property crime||Violent crime||Property crime||Violent crime||Property crime||Violent crime||Property crime||Violent crime||Property crime|
|TOTAL ALL AGENCIES:||1,142,108||8,229,516||1,204,655||8,628,538||1,227,330||8,716,315||1,240,985||8,851,465||1,197,089||8,935,714|
|GROUP I (250,000 and over)||375,293||1,963,986||401,676||2,087,161||401,518||2,103,825||420,698||2,184,592||408,875||2,206,861|
|1,000,000 and over (Group I subset)||114,591||579,607||123,058||623,701||125,257||647,572||131,210||650,001||127,623||669,625|
|500,000 to 999,999 (Group I subset)||148,297||790,337||159,727||831,918||155,793||813,306||155,761||832,547||149,233||809,352|
|250,000 to 499,999 (Group I subset)||112,405||594,042||118,891||631,542||120,468||642,947||133,727||702,044||132,019||727,884|
|GROUP II (100,000 to 249,999)||161,270||1,165,153||168,868||1,201,078||167,798||1,145,420||168,765||1,183,719||158,668||1,192,615|
|GROUP III (50,000 to 99,999)||126,490||992,763||133,570||1,052,700||140,491||1,098,380||136,613||1,073,801||133,966||1,107,071|
|GROUP IV (25,000 to 49,999)||86,602||800,848||89,983||809,060||95,890||864,244||96,807||877,422||90,994||886,669|
|GROUP V (10,000 to 24,999) AHPD CATEGORY||79,145||773,613||81,526||808,115||83,703||817,941||78,824||812,047||75,281||828,044|
|GROUP VI (under 10,000)||65,144||688,074||69,595||714,974||69,361||720,578||68,303||719,633||67,170||740,374|
In 2009, 14,274 agencies provided clearance data to the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
Nationwide in 2009, 47.1 percent of violent crimes were cleared by arrest or exceptional means.
Law enforcement agencies cleared 18.6 percent of property crimes in 2009.
Cities with populations of less than 10,000 inhabitants cleared the highest percentage (56.3) of violent crimes.
Cities with populations of 10,000 to 24,999 cleared 23.4 percent of property crimes—the highest clearance percentage among city groupings.
Nonmetropolitan county law enforcement agencies cleared 60.3 percent of violent crimes in 2009; law enforcement in metropolitan counties cleared 52.6 percent of violent crimes.
Law enforcement in nonmetropolitan counties cleared 18.3 percent of property crimes, and metropolitan county law enforcement agencies cleared 18.2 percent of property crimes.
Maybe this whole idea of consolidation isn’t as simple as it seems. I’m not suggesting that I know how to solve all the challenges that face us but I am pretty sure that we don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water.