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Early Warning Systems as Risk Management for Police (From Policing and Misconduct, P 219-230, 2002, Kim Michelle Lersch, ed. -- see NCJ-192294)

NCJ Number
Date Published
12 pages
This chapter examines one aspect of managing risk in police agencies by developing and implementing an Early Warning (EW) system, with attention to a history of the EW system, its place as a risk-management tool, and recommendations for its improvement.
One method of tracking and assessing the risks of police officer misconduct is the implementation of an EW system. An EW system is a data-based management tool that is created to identify officers whose behavior has reached a pre-established level and that has some kind of intervention designed to address any problematic behavior that has been identified. The system is "early" in the sense that a department acts on the basis of performance indicators that do not necessarily warrant formal disciplinary action but suggest that an officer may be having problems on the job. The first formal EW systems known to have survived to the present was developed in the Miami and the Miami-Dade police departments in the late 1970's. These systems are reviewed in this chapter. A chapter section on "Issues Related to EW System Administration" discusses implementation, program elements, and goals and expectations. The authors report on an evaluation which suggests that EW systems can be an effective risk-management tool for police agencies. The evaluation also found, however, that EW systems are expensive, complex, high-maintenance operations that require a significant investment of administrative resources. Further, the evaluation concluded that EW systems cannot function effectively apart from the larger organization culture in which the exist; i.e., they require a departmental commitment to accountability. Elements necessary for an effective EW system are outlined. 27 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002