In December 2015, the Public Safety Strategies Group (PSSG) conducted a review of the Boston Police Department to look at operational efficiencies. PSSG looked at many aspects of the BPD’s functioning by reviewing written materials and conducting over 150 interviews with Department members and City employees.
The overall objective was to conduct an overview of operations that captured the best practices in place at the BPD as well as potential areas for improvement.
PSSG issued recommendations in some of the following areas:
- Capital Improvements
- Organizational Structure
- Diversity / Addressing Diverse Populations
- Deployment and Workload Distribution
- Information Technology
- Fiscal Management
- Community Engagement
To highlight a few of the recommendations:
Capital Improvements / Deployment and Workload Distribution
Many of the recommendations require large capital investments, personnel, or funding needs. These areas will be assessed through analysis of data and reviewed for feasibility. Specifically, in the recommendations for facility upgrades, workload distribution, and personnel deployment, the Department will review call data to understand the baseline of the need and adjust to better utilize Department resources.
Organizational Structure / Community Engagement
Organizationally, the PSSG recommends clarification to the current organizational structure to better inform the Department and public of the job duties for each Command Staff position. In response to this recommendation, the Police Commissioner has created the Office of Community Collaboration and Strategies, led by Deputy Superintendent Joe Harris. Deputy Harris will report directly to the Police Commissioner and be responsible for driving the Department’s Community Policing strategies and promoting the education and awareness of the Department’s Community Policing mission, internally and externally. The Office of Research and Development will report to Deputy Harris to support his office’s mission, which includes finding resources through external and grant funding.
In addition, the Department makes the following clarifications to Command Staff Positions:
1. Deputy Superintendent Dennis White, Staff Inspection Commander: Under the direction of the Superintendent in Chief, the Deputy Superintendent of Staff Inspection will provide quality control of police services.
- Ensuring resources are being used efficiently by specifically identifying non-productive work, overstaffing and understaffing, standard operating procedures are understood and are being met, and deviations from standard operating procedures are identified and analyzed;
- Inspecting personnel to ensure call response is appropriate and efficient, and to ensure compliance with the Rules and Regulations and other directives of the Department, to include Department Rules 306, 320, and 325.
- Providing periodic reports on inspections to the Commissioner, the Superintendent in Chief, and the Bureau Chiefs;
- Providing recommendations on how to better provide police services efficiently and effectively; and
- Reviewing the use of police resources as directed by the Commissioner and / or Superintendent in Chief.
2. Deputy Superintendent Gerard Bailey, Field Support Division: Under the direction of the Chief of the Bureau of Field Services, the Deputy Superintendent of the Field Support Division will provide general oversight and supervision of the following units: City Wide Bicycle Unit, School Police Unit, Special Police Unit, and the Youth Violence Strike Force.
3. Deputy Superintendent Nora Baston, Community Support Division: Under the direction of the Chief of the Bureau of Field Services, the Deputy Superintendent of the Community Support Division will provide general oversight and supervision of the following units: Paid Detail Assignment Unit, the Neighborhood Watch Unit, the Police Cadet Unit, the Court Unit, and the Street Outreach Team.
- Serving as the Homeless Liaison for the Department;
- Coordinating with the Deputy Superintendent, Community Collaboration and Strategies in implementing various initiatives and partnerships to strengthen relationships with youth and the community; and
- Serving as the District Community Service Liaison for the Chief of the Bureau of Field Services
Diversity / Addressing Diverse Populations
PSSG recommends creating a documented recruiting plan to properly reflect the recent efforts to recruit minority officer candidates, and recommends developing strategies to better address non-English Speaking Stakeholders. These two issues are very important to the Department and while we have made enormous strides, especially in the area of recruiting, more work can be done. Specifically, with the implementation of the cadet program, and through the help and promotion from community organizations, 351 applicants took the police cadet program exam and more than 60 percent are minority candidates.
Fiscally, PSSG identifies area of improvement and suggests new systems for efficiency regarding Overtime, Compensatory Time, and Details. The Department is looking at changes in a time reporting system that would assist in this process, as well as working extremely close with Labor Relations and Finance in the Department, as well as City Hall, to review possible system improvements. PSSG additionally recommends considering civilianization to maximize sworn personnel. The Department will conduct cost / benefit analyses and appropriate collective bargaining before any such recommendations can be implemented.
Information Technology Resources
PSSG makes recommendations regarding IT Services, specifically recommending BPD and City consolidate IT Resources. The Department is currently reviewing with the City a way to balance the Departments 24/7 needs of a fully operational infrastructure to ensure the public safety of the community with the need for overall efficient and effective use of City resources.
While this report focuses on identifying areas for improvement, several strengths of the BPD were identified. It is widely recognized that the BPD is proficient at managing large scale events, strongly values community engagement, seeks transparency and community involvement, uses timely and consistent data to inform decision making and has strengthened efforts to create a more diverse department. The BPD welcomed the review process and was actively engaged in suggesting areas for improvement. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the way we provide services to the citizens of Boston,” said Commissioner Evans. “This report helps us to focus on areas where we can be better.”
To read the full report, click here.