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How to Evaluate and Improve Your Agency in 5 Easy Steps (Part 1)

Here’s the first two steps
of a five-step process that will help you identify your campus public safety department’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as actions you can take to resolve challenges.

  • 7. Morale. Operating a law enforcement agency is a daunting task that can become even more daunting in the face of significant and regular personnel turnover. Departments that lose large numbers of officers will have a difficult time meeting other objectives. Having positive department morale includes more than providing pay and benefits. It also includes opportunities for personal and professional growth, effective supervision, responsive leadership and information flow within the department.
  • 8. Currency and adaptability. This goal addresses whether the department is keeping up with current laws and campus regulations. It also covers whether a department has a finger on the pulse of its environment and is able to adapt proactively and effectively to extant and anticipated trends.
  • 9. Avoid liability. Individual officers, the department, its commanders and the institution in general can be held liable for officer malfeasance, indifference, illegal behavior or failure to comply with myriad regulations (e.g., Clery, Title IX). Liability threatens morale, a department’s reputation on campus, its funding and police operations, to name just a few.
  • 10. Establish and maintain a good reputation with external entities, such as police, courts and civic organizations. Earning the respect of local agencies through close interaction contributes to effective police operations that maintain a safe campus, a positive reputation in the community, morale and adaptability.
  • 11. Improve the college brand. Ultimately, an institution’s support for its police or security department depends on enrollments. One means of enhancing buy-in from administrators for departmental initiatives and funding support is to demonstrate how the department contributes to supporting the college’s educational goals. In short, maintaining a safe and secure campus through visible patrols, responsiveness and community outreach help to bolster the college’s brand.

Obviously, different leaders may have additional goals and/or may prioritize them differently to reflect their experiences, their environments, unique departmental histories, special clientele, etc. However, this list of goals serves to illustrate Step 1 in the evaluation process.

Step 2: Identify The Assets and Tasks (i.e., inputs) Available to Accomplish the Priorities
There are scores of activities, tasks and resources in which a department engages in the course of daily operations. These include patrol, training, investigation, communications and more. There are many ways to list these, but the breakout used by the federal government to categorize activities connected to ensuring the safety, security and control of nuclear weapons is aptly suited for characterizing police activities.

The government categorizes all activities associated with nuclear weapons into one of five categories: personnel, procedures, facilities, equipment and communications. The “Activity Categories” below (click to enlarge) show us how various police activities, resources and assets group under these headings. Sixty-nine inputs are listed, with the recognition that the list likely omits other valid inputs.

Click to see the Activity Categories chart

Now check out steps 3-5!

Lt. John Weinstein is the commander of Northern Virginia Community College Public Safety District 3. He is certified by Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services as a firearms instructor and is his department’s lead firearms instructor. He also conducts firearms training at two local police academies. Lt. Weinstein can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

About the Author

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Lt. John Weinstein is the commander of Northern Virginia Community College Public Safety District 3.

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