Walter A. McNeil, Chief of Police, Quincy Police Department, Quincy, Florida
s police leaders, we must continue our never-relenting efforts to protect our communities and keep our officers safe. One component of this promise is a commitment to bringing law enforcement and corrections agencies into closer working relationships.
Likewise, as we seek to make significant improvements to the overall criminal justice process, we must continue our efforts to fill gaps in the sharing of information regarding criminal activity at every level. My experience over the past 20 years has led me to believe that there are huge gaps in the information systems operated by law enforcement agencies and corrections agencies. Although competing organizational approaches are sometimes cited as a barrier, through enhanced supervision, specialized enforcement, and information sharing, police and correctional agencies can leverage their resources to meet a common goal: crime control.
Police-corrections partnerships are formal and informal arrangements between police, sheriffs, and corrections agencies to deter new criminal offenses by the persons most likely to commit them. I believe we will indeed save lives and prevent crimes if we work together with state, local, tribal, and federal prison systems. Take, for example, a recent statistic from the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted report: From 2000 to 2009, 25 percent of all offenders who killed a law enforcement officer were on probation or parole at the time. Surely, if soon-to-be parolees or those on probation are talking about violence against law enforcement, law enforcement agencies should know about it.
In addition to the most important officer and citizen safety benefits of increased collaboration, police-corrections partnerships and communication can have other benefits as well. Budget challenges and resulting staffing reductions are having a marked impact on the entire criminal justice system. Law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies are looking at increased collaboration and partnerships as ways to do more with less.
Over the last several years, the IACP has been developing resources aimed at building and sustaining successful police-corrections collaborations. In 2006, the IACP hosted a national policy summit on offender reentry to consider the role law enforcement executives and their agencies should assume in offender reentry efforts. Since that time, the IACP has conducted a high volume of police-corrections research, including the following:
- Sex Offenders in the Community: Enforcement and Prevention Strategies for Law Enforcement, a document that provides an overview of the sex offender population and examples of prevention and enforcement strategies from agencies around the United States
- Building an Offender Reentry Program: A Guide for Law Enforcement, a publication that examines law enforcement’s role in reentry initiatives including identification of promising practices and steps for building a reentry program
- Offender Reentry: Strategies and Approaches to Enhance Public Safety—A Training Guide for Law Enforcement, a document that helps law enforcement gain insight into reentry strategies through interactive and practical examples
- Strategically Monitoring Sex Offenders: Accessing Community Corrections Resources to Enhance Law Enforcement Capabilities, a publication that provides baseline information to improve communication between the law enforcement community and community corrections officers
- Probation and Parole: A Primer for Law Enforcement, a document that serves to introduce the roles and responsibilities of parole and probation officers. Aimed at line officers, this primer identifies the benefits of partnering with community corrections officials.
- Targeting Criminality: Successful Police Corrections Partnerships, a 13-minute video that provides examples of how partnerships facilitate information sharing and advance agency efforts to strategically address methamphetamines, sex offenders, and gangs
In January of this year, the Executive Committee held a focus group discussion on this topic and reaffirmed the IACP’s commitment to promote and advance law enforcement and corrections information sharing.
The IACP recently released Police-Corrections Partnerships: Collaborating for Strategic Crime Control. This guide is aimed at chief executives and focuses on the benefits and the types of police-corrections partnerships. The guide also addresses the development and the sustainability of collaborative partnerships and provides a blueprint for a partnership model.
The publications listed above are all available free of charge on the IACP’s website, www.theiacp.org.
As president of the IACP, my promise to you is that we will continue our commitment to enriching law enforcement and corrections partnerships. We will continue to provide guidance and information to the law enforcement community on building and sustaining these relationships in your community. Only with the exchange of ideas, investigative techniques, and specific crime-related information sharing among agencies can we hope to succeed in our anticrime and antiterrorism efforts. ♦