Posted Dec 08, 2015
Measuring Performance in Law Enforcement
Measuring outcomes for law enforcement has been a challenge for the Department of Justice. How do you measure effectiveness when success can mean that nothing bad happened? How do you account for external factors affecting public safety that you don’t control? How do you deal with data lags from the field? How do you deal with overlapping jurisdictions? How do you deal with the restrictions of classified information?
When the Performance Improvement Council asked if the Justice Department would be interested in co-sponsoring a working group on Law Enforcement Measurement, we jumped at the chance to engage on these issues with the larger federal law enforcement community. The Department, along with other agencies, ideally has been looking for that “silver bullet” -- a way to develop useful law enforcement outcome metrics. While we frequently meet within DOJ to discuss the challenges of crafting law enforcement metrics – we don’t often hear what other agencies are doing to measure law enforcement activities. Establishing the Law Enforcement Working Group provided a great opportunity to brainstorm and discuss some common and not so common challenges around developing metrics.
Twelve agencies participated in the working group. As you read through the PIC Book, you’ll see that despite the differences in our agency missions, we discovered common issues related to performance measurement, and discussed many ways to approach these issues. Our discussions touched on some very useful topics: how to present a high-level view of law enforcement outcomes; the use of flowcharts as a way help trace the path between inputs, outputs, and outcomes; methods to explain and deal with long lags either in data or in investigative results; the use of proxy metrics; and many others.
The Working Group created a forum, where not only were we able to share some best practices to address various law enforcement measurement issues, agencies realized that they were not the only ones struggling with development of effective and useful metrics. While perhaps we didn’t find a “silver bullet” to address all of our challenges, getting agencies like Transportation, State, Commerce, DHS, etc. into one room to have that dialogue was very productive, and of course a great opportunity for networking. Hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor!
Jill R. Meldon
Department of Justice
Assistant Director, Planning and Performance Group