As 2022 wrapped up, a reflection on the state of police staffing gradually started to appear. Gathering insight on staffing woes from across the country at different conferences and symposiums illustrated that, while each agency is unique, there are some basic problems they all face.
Three years ago, the world plunged into COVID uncertainty, and policing had to adjust. Next came the reckoning after the George Floyd incident, and policing had to adjust. Officers became disenchanted with the profession and left in droves, and policing is again having to adjust.
As we start 2023, law enforcement is dealing with high attrition and low recruitment. Anyone who has worked in law enforcement for more than a minute knows this will not be a quick or easy fix. Support for law enforcement is climbing back up. A lot of resources are now being devoted to officer wellness and safety, trying to address the underlying problems that led to high attrition and low recruitment. Isn’t that what those POP problem-solving classes taught us all those years? Address the underlying problem or condition; don’t just treat the symptoms. Law enforcement is entering an updated enlightenment phase. However, just like a cruise ship doesn’t turn on a dime, it will take a while for this transformation to occur. In the meantime, agencies need the ability to adjust and recalibrate in order to meet the demands of their community whilst hanging on to the staff they have.
As this metamorphosis occurs, there’s still the business of policing that needs to be done every day. During 2022, in an effort to try and adequately staff patrol, agencies reported disbanding specialized units, pulling detectives back to patrol, enacting 12-hour shifts (which may not be a good solution – see our previous blog post), and that excessive overtime is creating overworked and weary cops.
In 2022, law enforcement leaders, analysts, planners and researchers came to conferences and symposiums looking for insight and tools, such as Deploy Plus from Corona Solutions, to help them adjust and recalibrate when it comes to dynamic staffing challenges like high attrition, reduced budgets, and union demands.
Those insights included moving from thinking in shift averages to hourly averages for a more defensible, targeted approach to relieve specific pain points throughout the week in “Use Time Analysis to Recalibrate Patrol Staffing” at the:
- AACA Spring Symposium (Arizona Association of Crime Analysts)
- New England Crime Analysis & Intelligence Conference hosted by MACA (Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts)
- FCIAA Annual Conference (Florida Crime and Intelligence Analyst Association)
- National Sheriff’s Association Annual Conference
Insights also included which metrics are important to use and the best way to measure them for effective patrol staffing during “Ease the Pain of Attrition Through Patrol Staff Recalibration” at the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Public Safety Symposium in Albany, NY.
While staffing woes continue to increase, it was saddening to see the collapse of the IALEP (International Association of Law Enforcement Planners) in 2022. These are the professionals tasked with staffing analysis if agencies are fortunate enough to employ them. With dwindling support and membership, the IALEP felt there wasn’t enough interest to continue. So, what is the future of staffing analysis for law enforcement agencies? There’s certainly a need for it based on the interest of the conference and symposium attendees. In April, the presentation “Ease the Pain of Attrition Through Patrol Staff Recalibration” will be given at the 2023 NORCAN Training Conference (Northwest Regional Crime Analysis Network).
Thorough patrol staffing analysis takes a lot of time and isn’t easy. There are no common off-the-shelf tools to which analysts and planners can turn that answer the hard questions: How can we effectively manage demand for service with decreasing staff? Will changing to a 12-hour schedule make officer workload better or worse? How much will response times be impacted when the next 10 officers leave?
Patrol is the biggest part of an agency’s budget (less a jail). It’s the division that most feels the impact of attrition, and it’s the most scrutinized of any department. Staffing to demand will not be answered by looking at a one-time snapshot in time, as demand is changing too fast, and historical workload was interrupted by COVID. The ability to adjust and recalibrate is crucial for an agency to run its patrol division smartly and efficiently. The way both the communities and the cops deserve.
To learn more information about new tools for demand-driven deployment, click here.