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Monday, December 21, 2009

Social Media is Changing the Way We Work

You've heard all the latest buzzwords going around the office...Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr, the list goes on, and on, and on. Many of us have transitioned from hearing these buzzwords, better known as social media sites or networks, to being active participants in their usage. In a recent meeting with some of my agency's top executives, one of them inquired about the usage of social media by employees during work hours. While the details of that conversation are interesting, the more important aspect is that social media is now becoming a part of our culture; regardless if it is endorsed by the agency or not.
Seeing such monumental advancements in such communications media, causes me to ask the question...How will social media change the way law enforcement, the judicial system, or businesses and corporations around the globe do day to day business? Let me be clear as to what I am trying to get across. I'm not saying that every company should endorse employees use of social media at work, or that every company start a Facebook page. What I am wondering is if this type of social media, this engagement of employees, can be capitalized in a way that could make the way we do the business of law enforcement change forever. How can we turn the way we communicate internally and externally, into something that our employees, along with our judicial partners, embrace. How can a social network assist in creating a "LEAN" law enforcement culture?
It seems the more I ask these seemingly obvious questions, the more interesting the concept becomes. Let's forward twenty years or so. Every agency has a website, every officer has a blog, every employee interacts with eachother and the judicial system staff through a social network. Same goes for every business from Microsoft, to Google, to Joe's fish market on the corner. Every cell phone will have internet as a standard feature, along with GPS, and any other advanced feature of today. Cell phones will never have "dead spots." Every five year old will have a cell phone before registering for kindergarten. Home phones will be virtually non existent, as they will be replaced with cell phones, also known as smart phones. Every major corporation will have custom made applications specific to their employees and customer markets. Every vehicle manufactured will have a SIM card, allowing it to be tracked in real time by either the owner, or by law enforcement if stolen. Google maps will be in real time availability for law enforcement, and be able to be rewound to capture specifics to crimes that have occurred; I call this "virtual surveillance." The possibilities are limited only to the imagination...where do you see technology fitting in with your agency?
The key to the story is this, change in the way we do business is occurring whether we like it or not. The best thing for us all is to learn new technologies, and learn how to use them to the betterment of our agencies, and the communities we serve. For an interesting illustration of how social networking it now a part of culture visit http://www.theconversationprism.com/, it is quite impressive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tips on Better Law Enforcement Data Integration, By Stephen G. Serrao, Captain, New Jersey State Police (ret.)

Tips on Better Law Enforcement Data Integration

By Stephen G. Serrao, Captain, New Jersey State Police (ret.)

In the aftermath of 9/11, many law enforcement agencies sought to establish new data repositories to capture information, such as Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR, also known as Tips & Leads), Organized Crime Intelligence, Counter-terrorism Intelligence, and even Web-based and electronic document open-source data. There was a strong focus on collecting new and previously unknown information.

The last three years has seen a shift, however. Quite a few agencies – perhaps a result of the growth of Fusion Centers – are equally interested in setting up information management systems that can mine existing data repositories that they have been populating with records for many years.

A big reason for this shift may have to do with N-DEX (National Data Exchange), the FBI’s criminal justice information-sharing platform. N-DEX is a national system that enables law enforcement agencies to share non-intelligence information much more easily. Such information sharing aids in catching criminals as well as identifying trends and patterns to help prevent crimes and terrorist attacks.

Here are some of the best practices that agencies have been employing:

Use a single-source portal for examining different types of law enforcement data. Such a system empowers intelligence officers and staff with the capabilities of examining all the data in one place, using the same data mining tools without the need to log on and off different systems

Ensure that the system is N-DEX compliant

Avoid “home-grown” systems that often fail to capitalize on the wealth of thought leadership that has been generated in law enforcement circles

Leverage experienced practitioners and their technologies to ensure compliance with civil liberty, privacy and other statutes

Data integration is the beginning – not the end – of sound law enforcement practices.

Captain Stephen G. Serrao is a former New Jersey State Police Counterterrorism Bureau Chief, and now helps shape the direction of intelligence management software as Director of Product Management, Americas Region for Memex, Inc., a worldwide provider of intelligence management, data integration, search and analysis solutions (www.memex.com). Serrao can be reached at steve.serrao@memex.com.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Tale of Two "Lean" Cities

In August 2009, I had the distinct honor of facilitating a Rapid Improvement Event with the Alaska Air National Guard, 176 WG. Being a guardsman for the past 20 years, I have come to look forward to these short, but very beneficial trips to new places. The Air Force started its Continuous Process Improvement initiative a fews ago, marketed under the acronym "AFSO21" (Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century). This trip provided an opportunity for me to use my facilitation skills for the betterment of my country. But, this trip was ever more special to me.

Deputy Chief Steve Smith, Anchorage Alaska Police Department, had previously reached out to my full time employer, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, to inquire about implementing "Lean." Recognizing the once in a lifetime opportunity to introduce another law enforcement agency to "Lean" while serving my country at the same time, I quickly invited Deputy Chief Smith to observe our event at the Alaska Air National Guard. I am happy to say that he accepted the invitation.

Since that time great things have happened. Deputy Chief Smith reached out to the Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Inc (AMEP), and has started a local Lean Consortium, very similar to the Jacksonville Lean Consortium, which the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is a member.

To read the story in the Jacksonville Lean Consortium's newletter, click here.

Roll Call of Fallen Officers...FOP 5-30 Donates New Memorial Wall

In May 2009, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Continuous Improvement Unit conducted a 7S event focused on the Police Memorial Building (PMB) entrances. During the event, Team Leader, Sgt. Johnny Mike, asked the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) to update the Wall of Honor at the Bay Street entrance. The 7S event created an excellent opportunity to bring attention to our fallen brothers. All costs for the new wall were paid for by the FOP, Lodge 5-30.

Manchester Police..."Leans" to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for best practices

Emma Jeffcock, a researcher with the Greater Manchester Police Department, Manchester, England, is conducting research in the United States related to "Lean" in law enforcement. Emma will be in the U.S. for six months visiting various agencies that are incorporating "Lean" methodology as a part of their business practices. According to Emma, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is a role model for other agencies trying to implement "Lean."  Shown in the picture above is Emma Jeffcock, left, and Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff John Rutherford, right. Sheriff Rutherford presented Emma with his signature, "Riding for the Brand" coin. The coin is given to those who give to the community by upholding the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office core values of Worthy of Trust, Respect for Others, Community Focused, and Always Improving. Sheriff Rutherford is the first known head of a law enforcement agency to implement 'Lean"

Go for the "better" solutions, not just the "best" solutions

How do we get to be the “best?” How do we get to be “THE” premier law enforcement agency in the nation? We get there through continuous, gradual improvements you can make after reviewing and updating processes. This can range from things as simple as organizing the trunk of your patrol car, or learning ways to organize your emails, to large department wide initiatives such as Intelligence Led Policing, such as the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) projects. When making things “better”, it’s natural to try and make the process the absolute “best,” all at one time. But sometimes the “best” solution may rely on long term, strategic solutions or involve resources outside of our immediate control. These solutions can sometimes take months or years to put into action. This is the point where enthusiasm and reality collide. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t keep from trying to make a process “better” just because the “best” solution is not immediately attainable. Remember, a little better is still better. Put the easy fixes in place today, all the while keeping your sights on the long term goals that coincide with being the “best.” Continuous improvement is after all ... continuous.

"Lean Six Sigma" as a Law Enforcement Tool

Like many of the tools available for law enforcement officers today, Lean Six Sigma (LSS) process improvement methodologies are only as good as the officer's skill level, trained in its use. Firearms, TASERs, pepper spray, batons, are all examples of what law enforcement officers, the world over, are required to achieve proficiency with before hitting the streets on their own. Beyond achieving this proficiency, they must aslo maintain certification with these tools of the trade on a recurring basis. Now, insert LSS as the new tool of this fast paced profession and great things can happen. Keep in mind though that this is simply another tool. Being such, some officers may reach the proficiency level, while some will achieve expert.
Think of your agency's special assignment teams such as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Community Oriented Policing (COPS), Bicycle Unit, Apartment Tasks Force, School Resource Officers (SRO), etc. Each of these teams require a special type of individual to help the team be most successful. Not all officers can meet the rigorous demands of SWAT, nor does every officer want to ride a bicycle all day or work at a school. The point being, each of these specialized teams tend to draw officers that have a "knack" for what the team exemplifies. These groups of officers will then receive specialized training that goes well beyond the average officers level of proficiency for that particular skillset. The same should be true for LSS.
LSS thinking is somewhat of a new mindset for law enforcement, in general. Sure, we may have all used problem solving policing in the past, but this is different. LSS teaches us to look at all processes within our agency, not just the crime trends and patterns. While It is always a great idea to train as many people as possible to look at the processes that they work in and challenge them, keep in mind, some officers will simply have the "knack" for it. This doesn't make them better police officers than the others, or vice versa. What it could mean is that they should be the ones to receive the advanced LSS training. I highly encourage you to give all officers within your agency the basic skillset and understanding of LSS. Then, sit back and watch as those with a passion for improving the core processes begin to emerge. As they emerge, begin building your specialized LSS teams to attack beauracracy and waste within processes. These special advocates for process improvement will not only deliver the greatest return on investment, but they will also set the best example for the changing mindset that is necessary to sustain a LSS culture.