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Proposal for an Evaluation of a Tele Serve Unit in the Houston Police Department

NCJ Number
P J Schneider
Date Published
21 pages
This paper discusses rationales underlying implementation of a pilot Tele Serve Unit in the Houston Police Department which will divert certain complaints to handling by phone rather than patrol, as well as techniques the police will use to evaluate the project.
Tele Serve will help the Houston Police Department use its manpower resources more efficiently, increase police visibility and response time, and achieve substantial cost savings. The citizens of Houston now perceive the city as unsafe and are dissatisfied with current police response times. Police departments in Wilmington, Del.; Fairfax County, Va.; Nashville, Tenn.; and other cities have used complaint diversion programs to improve response times and deploy patrol resources more effectively. Houston will conduct a pilot program before implementing Tele Serve on a department wide basis. The unit will be housed in the complaint operator's room of the Dispatch Division and staffed by police officers currently assigned to that Division. Based on specific criteria, the following offenses have been identified as potentially divertable: criminal mischief, theft from a motor vehicle, theft, burglary of a motor vehicle, shoplifting with no suspect, found property, and telephone harassment. Evaluation measures will include response time, resources expended, volume and type of calls, and citizen satisfaction. Evaluation data will be collected in three stages: a preimplementation period of 3 months immediately before the pilot program begins, a 3-month pilot program phase, and a postimplementation phase. The department will develop survey instruments to measure citizen satisfaction with police responses and conduct a detailed cost analysis.