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Five Things Law Enforcement Executives Can Do to Make a Difference

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Date Published
March 20, 2013

These Five Things come from years of research, analysis, testing and evaluation. Use the Five Things to make your community safer, your officers safer and your leadership more dynamic. Following the guidance in the Five Things will give your agency higher impact and lower costs overall.

The more we know about what works, the better we are at making a difference.

  1. Crime is rarely random; patrols shouldn't be either.
  2. Quality is more important than speed.
  3. DNA works for property crimes, too.
  4. In police work, perceptions matter.
  5. Make officer safety and wellness a priority.

1. Crime is rarely random; patrols shouldn't be either.

Focusing on small geographic locations when and where crimes occur, and targeting specific, high-impact repeat offenders, can effectively decrease crime.

2. Quality is more important than speed.

Thorough investigations, problem solving and careful forensic evidence collection all contribute more to arresting suspects than shaving a few seconds off initial response times in most cases.

3. DNA works for property crimes, too.

Collecting and using DNA evidence substantially increases the likelihood of solving property crimes — twice as many arrests and twice as many cases accepted for prosecution.

4. In police work, perceptions matter.

When people see the police as fair, lawful and respectful, officers are safer and citizens are more likely to obey the law and comply with police orders. For example, how an officer treats a stopped motorist influences the motorist’s opinion more than whether the officer issues a citation.

5. Make officer safety and wellness a priority.

Safety training, certain shift lengths and body armor usage can prevent injuries and save lives. For example, the “Shift Length Experiment” study showed that officers who worked 10-hour shifts (compared to 8- and 12-hour shifts made fewer errors and worked less overtime.

National Institute of Justice, "Five Things Law Enforcement Executives Can Do to Make a Difference," March 20, 2013, nij.ojp.gov:
https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/five-things-law-enforcement-executives-can-do-make-difference
Date Created: March 20, 2013