Building Better Early Intervention Systems

A few years ago, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Police Department?s (CMPD?s) Early Intervention System (EIS) flagged an officer who had been involved in an unusually high number of incidents resulting in injuries. A supervisor reviewed the officer?s records and determined that, while the officer was using force at appropriate times, he was executing takedowns incorrectly. The supervisor sent the officer to the academy for a refresher course. As a result, injuries from the officer?s arrests plummeted, the officer avoided punishment and learned to properly execute takedowns, and the department reduced its legal liability. The officer, the department, and the community benefited from the early notification.

EISs are a staple in U.S. police departments?a 2007 survey showed that 65 percent of surveyed police departments with 250 or more officers had an EIS.1 The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, the U.S. Department of Justice, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Police Foundation have all recommended departments use these systems.2 Most federal consent decrees require a department to use an EIS.3