About a month ago, I posted an entry that had to do with ten items of reinventing government
For a review here they are again:
1. Government should steer more than row.
2. Government should empower citizens and communities instead of just serving them.
3. Government should encourage competition rather than monopoly.
4. Government should be mission-driven, not rule-driven.
5. Government should be results-oriented and focused on outcomes, not inputs.
6. Government should serve its customers, not its own bureaucracy.
7. Government should earn money as well as spend it.
8. Government should prevent as well as cure.
9. Government should decentralize and adopt more participative styles of management and leadership.
10. Government should leverage change through the marketplace, not just by creating public programs.
Authors-consultants David Osborne and Ted Gaebler proposed these principles as a model of doing business. I will be the first person to acknowledge that each is subject to interpretation without benefit of more content of their materials. As I mentioned in the previous posting, I wanted to revisit the principles in some detail to share my take on them.
Starting in no particular order, I'll tackle #8, "Government should prevent as well as cure." This principle applies well to policing. It complements Herman Goldstein's
philosophy of problem oriented policing. Police need to be in the business of preventing every bit as enthusiastically as they are reactive. Unless we develop a means to stop crime or deal with quality of life issues, more and more of our time is consumed in responding to established problems, which means we have less and less time to anticipate new problems, let alone deal with them. I time, the law of diminishing returns
applies and we find ourselves in the position of having to prioritize which crime or issue we will respond to and which crimes and activities we will ignore.
I've never been a big fan of reactive crime management. Many in the policing profession subscribe to it for (A) it's the only way they know how to manage; (B) it's more in line with their view of traditional policing; (C) it requires less innovation and creativity; (D) it fits with the traditional view of just throwing more money and people at an established problem also known as the "shotgun approach"; and (E) it's politically safe...(for a while until the community gets fed up with increasing crime problems and demands reform). A good number of larger cities, faced with budget issues are now dealing with the problems of increasing crime and fewer police officers to work on prevention methods.
Prevention and/or problem solving incorporates more traditional policing methods such as saturation patrol, arrests, education and quick response to problem areas. It also goes beyond the norm by involving other partners in the process. A good Northfield example would be the growing concern over loud parties and associated problems in residential neighborhoods. Any community with colleges or universities will experience this challenge.
I've recently reiterated my position of effective enforcement by our officers (that means writing more tickets than warnings and holding staff accountable for their actions in this area) as well as the improved communications between both colleges and their respective deans of students. We've also stepped up our communication with property managers and owners, holding them accountable for properly managing their properties. The final component will be to further engage the residents impacted by the changes in their neighborhoods as rental properties replace traditional home ownership. The combination of bringing together neighborhood residents, property owners, college representatives and new rental tenants can help to reduce the frustration and angst caused by 2am calls to the police of repeated problems with loud parties and increased traffic in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
In order for this process to work; however, we will need the support from the community and elected officials is several ways: (A) communication with the chief's office as to how officers perform when called to neighborhoods because of noise complaints, both positive and not so positive; (B) working with our staff to establish lines of communication between all parties involved; (C) be supportive of elected officials as they assist in our efforts in communicating with residents; (D) encourage prosecutors and judges to hold those accountable who repeatedly violate ordinances with respect to noise and disorderly conduct and (E) be a cordial good neighbor to new residents.
In theory, if the components fit together, the need for continued reactive measures should subside. This allows us more time to attend to other issues and provides for a better quality of life for all our residents.__________________________________________________________________
As a side note, I'd like to compliment the director of the Pearl Street Communications Center, Barb Brewington, for taking a giant step forward in helping us be more efficient. The Center handles all our emergency and non-business calls for police, fire, and ambulance in Northfield and surrounding areas. It is located in Owatonna.
Ms. Brewington has implemented a procedure that will require officers to provide their locations when called, allowing dispatchers and officers to make sure the closest unit responds to a call. Dispatchers will no longer use the approach of simply putting out a call to all the officers in a city. They will now assign each call. This prevents "bunching" of officers into one area, leaving other areas of the community unprotected and lends itself to an overall efficiency in managing police services. This process eliminates the "shotgun" approach I described previously in this posting. The new procedure is now in place in Rice and Steele Counties and all communities within those borders.
I appreciate Ms. Brewington's leadership on this subject. I am also proud to tell you that Northfield was the first community to implement procedure because our officers were already following these protocols. This speaks well of our officers and supervisors.