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Early Intervention Systems for Law Enforcement Agencies: A Planning and Management Guide

NCJ Number
Samuel Walker Ph.D.
Date Published
174 pages
This guide offers information about Early Intervention systems for spotting officers who have performance issues in the field.

Early Intervention (EI) systems are a data driven management tool that alerts management to officers who seem to be having performance problems. Generally, in an EI system, information about performance is entered into a computerized database; such information usually includes use-of-force reports, citizen complaints, officer involvement in civil litigation, resisting arrest charges, and other performance indicators. The system alerts management when certain officers are having problems with citizens so that interventions may be undertaken before major problems occur and before any type of formal disciplinary action is required. Chapter 1 explains the concept of EI systems and shows how such systems are compatible with the goals of community-oriented policing and problem-oriented policing. Chapter 2 explores the typical components of an EI system. The author describes the two basic types of systems, one of which is relatively comprehensive and involves a wide range of data that can identify top-performing and underperforming officers, while the other is more narrowly focused and involves a narrow range of data to identify performance problems. The author describes the types of performance indicators that are typically used in these systems and offers examples based on actual cases adapted from the EI system of a large police department. Chapter 2 also includes a discussion of post-intervention monitoring and training for supervisors on how to properly manage an EI system. Chapter 3 explores the origins and development of EI systems by focusing on specific EI systems around the country, including Miami’s system and two systems in Los Angeles. Research on the effectiveness of EI systems is presented, which includes a discussion of five studies and evaluations. Results of these evaluations show that they can be effective tools for preventing problem behaviors, however they can also be difficult to effectively implement. Chapter 4 shares police managers’ perceptions and experiences with EI systems in order to illustrate their advantages and challenges. Comparisons are made between departments with EI systems and departments without EI systems. Chapter 5 offers a 15-step planning guide for the implementation of an EI system, while Chapter 6 presents policy and research needs for the future of EI systems. Appendices