Meeting Public Demands for Transparency

November 24, 2021 by Kate Nadolski

Meeting Public Demands for Transparency

The public’s need for transparency in policing has agencies across the United States striving to achieve this requirement. In some cases, this lack of transparency and accountability has proven to be a complex problem that has drawn a lot of attention from the media and the public.

As any leader within a public safety agency might wonder, what’s the best course of action to improve transparency and accountability? Consider the following:

1. Offer Full Transparency to the Public

In today’s world, access to data is not only expected, it’s vital. Communities expect instant access to public safety data. While it’s necessary to ensure privacy is maintained in some public records — such as in the case of an assault — keeping public data internal or accessible in the agency is a thing of the past.

Agencies need to make it a point to share data on demographics, citations, arrests, use of force, and complaints to ensure the communities they serve have access to this information.

While providing this data may seem like extra work, it’s an opportunity to connect with the community and build trust. That’s why it is essential to make this data available and easily consumable. This could mean placing the information into easy-to-read graphs or charts to ensure that the community easily understands it.

2. Use Data to Protect Your Agency

Collecting data and keeping it stored safely is vital for protecting an agency and its officers.

Every day, agencies of all sizes collect reams of data. Ensuring this data is stored and easily accessible helps agencies track cases, identify trends, reduce crime, and protect officers.

Imagine a situation where specific information pertaining to a case was brought into question, and the agency or officer involved could not find the necessary data to support or deny the claim. This could prove to be problematic for the agency, officer, and even the public, as its trust in the agency would be altered.

Digital systems offer more protection in data integrity, security, and accessibility than paper methods as they are properly stored and saved in the cloud.

3. Act on At-Risk Behavior Early

Tracking officer behavior and identifying patterns helps command staff understand the needs of each member of an agency.

With an analytical view into the lives of all officers, command staff can provide the necessary resources to ensure everyone’s needs are being met.

For example, if an officer has repeatedly made the same error over several weeks, that might indicate they need more training in that specific area. As command staff notices and follows this pattern, they can identify what action they need to take to better equip that officer; in this case, training focused on this officer’s trouble area.

In more severe cases, command staff can track officer-involved incidents and make judgments based on any re-occurring behavior. This opportunity for tracking, intervention, and retraining has the power to prevent any incident from happening.

4. The 'Why?' Behind Transparency and Accountability

Change can sometimes be difficult, but it is always inevitable. As the world and society change, so must law enforcement agencies, as their goal is to protect and serve the communities in which they live. With so much information constantly coming in from incidents around the clock, being fully transparent with data can seem like a tall task, simply because there’s so much of it.

Trusting in intelligent technology that collects, stores, and shares information readily while automatically identifying at-risk behaviors is a game-changer for law enforcement agencies trying their best to keep up with the public demand for full transparency and accountability.

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