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Essentials for Leaders: A Performance-Based Approach to Police Staffing and Allocation

NCJ Number
Jeremy M. Wilson; Alexander Weiss
Date Published
August 2012
8 pages
This report summarizes the research conducted by a Michigan State University team on current staffing allocation procedures used by law enforcement agencies, and it presents a step-by-step approach for any agency to use in assessing its own patrol staffing needs based on its workload and performance objectives.
The research had four components. One component reviewed current procedures used by law enforcement agencies in determining their personnel needs and deployment. A second component focused on approaches for determining staffing need and the development and implementation of a workload-based approach in these matters. A third component addressed how alternative ways of providing police services could influence workforce planning; and the fourth component examined the relationship between police staffing and community policing. Based on its findings, the study recommends that a workload-based approach be used in determining staffing needs. Six steps are proposed for conducting a workload assessment. First, examine the distribution of calls for service by hour of day, day of week, and month. Second, review the nature of calls for service. Third, estimate the time spent on service calls. Fourth, calculate agency shift-relief factors. Fifth, establish performance objectives. Sixth, provide staffing estimates. Agencies may also consider alternative delivery systems for police services so as to better manage the demand for police services. These can include alternative methods for managing non-emergency service calls; various ways citizens can report crimes and traffic accidents, and the use of non-sworn personnel to handle calls. The research found that as of 2007, 14 percent of all agencies, including 60 percent of agencies serving populations between 50,000 and 1 million, had a specialized community-policing unit. Other agencies have adopted community policing in a way that mixes generalized and specialized approaches. The nature of each agency's performance of community policing responsibilities will determine workload and staffing requirements. 11 references