PCASS Publications

Public Safety Consolidation: A Multiple Case Study Assessment of Implementation and Outcome

This report seeks to shed light on the implementation of various forms of police-fire consolidation, particularly emphasizing the variety of ways public safety agencies address fire suppression. The goal is to provide police administrators, local decision makers, and other stakeholders an overview that will help inform discussions about consolidation in their communities.

Essentials for Leaders: Public Safety Consolidation-A Multiple Case Study Assessment of Implementation and Outcome

This is a quick summary of a report that seeks to shed light on the implementation of various forms of police-fire consolidation, particularly emphasizing the variety of ways public safety agencies address fire suppression. The goal is to provide police administrators, local decision makers, and other stakeholders a quick overview that will help inform discussions about consolidation in their communities.

Consolidated Public Safety Departments: A Census and Administrative Examination

Deconsolidation of Public Safety Agencies Providing Police and Fire Services

This journal article analyzes six case studies of public-safety agencies, chosen for their diversity in geography, date of consolidation and deconsolidation, form of consolidation, and other community characteristics. It explores their reasons for consolidation and deconsolidation in the context of broader police organizational research, particularly that regarding organizational theory, change, and performance. 

Police Staffing Levels: Disaggregating the Variation

This journal article examines examine the relationship between community type classifications and police strength.

Pathyways to Consolidation: Taking Stock of Transitions to Alternative Models of Police Service

This report seeks to shed light on the implementation of various forms of consolidation, particularly emphasizing the transition process. The goal is to provide police administrators, local decision makers and other stakeholders an overview that will help inform discussions about consolidation in their communities.

Transitioning to Alternative Models of Police Service:Focus Groups and Case Studies Provide Insights

The Great Recession and its aftermath had a huge impact on local policing, with agencies furloughing, laying off, or defunding positions. Local governments still struggle with resource and staffing issues. Given the fact that public-safety costs consume significant portions of the general-fund budget for local governments, agencies have sought ways to consolidate, merge, or share police services. This article explores these issues and how agencies are responding to them.

Integrating Civilian Staff into Police Agencies

Civilianization of policing is one of the most frequent methods agencies use to continue providing service to the community while still tending to the pressing management and administration needs of an agency. Integrating Civilian Staff into Police Agencies describes issues surrounding the employment and use of civilian employees by police agencies in the United States. This publication discusses not only innovative ways that some agencies are using civilians but also impediments and facilitators to civilianization and the costs and benefits of increasing civilianization. It also provides general recommendations for agencies considering the increased use of civilian employees.        

Police Consolidation: Collaborating with Stakeholders

For those communities that have implemented or are considering options that would result in sharing, consolidating, or regionalizing public safety services with other public sector entities, the quality of solutions and the success of their implementation depend on the ability of leaders and citizens to gather and in good faith analyze relevant information, carry on careful and rational discussions of tough issues, and craft workable plans in a timely fashion with a minimum of divisive conflict. Police Consolidation: Collaborating with Stakeholders aims to help those charged with exploring options for transforming an organization and for delivering public safety services by presenting a step-by-step process to constructively engage a group of stakeholders and formulate options for transformation.

Police Consolidation: Engaging the News Media

Police consolidation is a complex issue that can significantly impact the quality of life in and the security of a community. To help agencies better understand this process, Police Consolidation: Engaging the News Media explores how the news presents the topic of consolidation, along with its associated community interests, budgetary concerns, and potential outcomes. This resource guide also explores what sources news reporters use to construct consolidation stories and how reporters use these sources to convey what messages. Most important for public officials and policymakers considering consolidation in their own communities, this publication provides best practices based on interviews with representatives of agencies that sought consolidation and provides recommendations on how best to communicate through the media.

Contracting for Law Enforcement Services: Lessons from Research and Practice

In this document, the authors review in more depth municipalities contracting with other governmental agencies, typically a sheriff’s office, as an option for the provision of police services. Such contracting dates back at least to the 1950s when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department offered services to municipalities seeking to reduce their costs (Lloyd & Norrgard, 1966). Often law enforcement agencies have sought to share services as technology emerges or new problems evolve that transcend communities or require more resources than a single academy can afford, with such efforts sometimes resulting in a full merger between adjacent jurisdictions or across a region.

Police Staffing Allocation and Managing Workload Demand: A Critial Assessment of Existing Practices

Police agencies take a variety of approaches to determining their staffing allocation needs. Among these are the per-capita, minimum staffing, authorized level, and workload-based methods. Based on a review of the literature, interviews with practitioners representing 20 diverse agencies across the USA and national focus group of 21 staffing experts, this article assesses current trends and experiences in staffing allocation. Additionally, it examines the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches to determining staffing need and to managing workload demand in ways that that minimize the use of sworn officers.

Strategies for Police Recruitment: A Review of Trends, Contemporary Issues, and Existing Approaches

This article focuses on police recruitment. It synthesizes research about promising practices for recruitment, focusing on empirical studies, to identify lessons on recruiting police personnel. It explains what is known about various strategies, drawing heavily on the policing literature but supplementing that on occasion by highlighting the effectiveness of these strategies in the military, medicine, education, business, and other professions. This review can help police practitioners and local officials—each of whom will face unique circumstances—identify what has been tried elsewhere and might be applicable to their own communities. While some gaps remain in the literature, and much of the literature is based more on anecdote than empirical research (thereby precluding meta-analyses and other formal assessments), this review can help police practitioners and local officials understand what is and is not known.

Police Consolidation in the News

Although there is a large body of research on media coverage of crime and criminal justice issues, there is significantly less information about policing issues generally, and there has not been a study that specifically examines how the consolidation of law enforcement agencies has been presented in the news. This study fills this gap. We explore two general themes. First, we detail what issues about consolidation have been emphasized in the news. Second, we examine the types of sources that news reporters have relied on and how they have used them in stories about consolidation.

Contracting for Law-Enforcement Services: Perspectives from Past Research and Current Practice

This report reviews the extent of contracting for law-enforcement services and some common themes and issues in contracting effort. It provids an overview of the development of contracting, as well as details on contracting in California, Washington state, and Michigan. Among the common themes it explors are the reasons jurisdictions may contract for law-enforcement services, the effect contracting has on local control and identify of law-enforcement services, the economics of contracting, and other advantages and disadvantages of contracting.

Staff Perceptions of Public Safety Consolidation: A Multi-Site Assessment

This report presents results of a survey for personnel in three Michigan public-safety departments then recently consolidated. Two of the surveyed departments were partially consolidated with some cross-trained public-safety officers providing both police and fire services; the third was nominally consolidated in its administration. The survey found supervisors and officers strongly supported the consolidation, and perceived most residents to support it as well, though not as strongly. Most saw little or no change to the local police and fire missions, though three in ten did see "a lot" of change to the fire mission. Many thought keeping them informed was a low priority of their department, and most said their input in planning and implementation was also a low priority. Police and cross-trained personnel reported the same or improved job satisfaction after consolidation, while fire personnel reported lower levels. Fire personnel also noted more difficulties with the consolidation. The authors noted that keeping personnel informed and seeking their input in planning and implementation might improve perceptions of consolidation.

In an Era of Austerity: Chief-to-Chief Lessons on the Consolidation of Law Enforcement Services

The Michigan State University (MSU), School of Criminal Justice, with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, convened a focus group on "Merging Organizational Policy" at a meeting of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police held on February 6, 2013, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The session sought to develop lessons for those considering or leading consolidation efforts. All meeting attendees with experience in merging organizational policy were invited to attend and share their insights and recommendations on topics such as pay and benefits, pensions, work schedules, ranks and positions, organizational structure, culture, hiring, and training. They discussed issues their agencies confronted when they merged into a regional organization, reduced its combined staffing, participated in regionally shared services, determined what services to provide and how much to charge for them when contracting, and adopted a public safety model integrating police, fire, and emergency medical services. The overall theme and anonymous quotes from the participants are included in this research brief. 

 

Resident Perceptions of Public-Safety Consolidation

Research on police-fire consolidation is scarce and mostly outdated. One fundamental gap in knowledge is public perceptions of police-fire consolidation. Michigan State University (MSU) researchers developed questions for the State of the State Survey, asking a representative sample of Michigan residents in 2012 their ratings of local police, fire, and emergency medical services, as well as how consolidation might affect the quality and cost of the public safety services. The survey findings are summarized in this research brief. 

Staffing the "Small" Department: Taking Stock of Existing Benchmarks and Promising Approaches

Staffing police departments is a continuous challenge for law enforcement administrators. Agencies tend to focus on recruitment and retention, overlooking a more fundamental question: How many officers does a particular agency need? While there have been methods developed to assist agencies determine the appropriate number of staffing, these are often not well suited for small communities. In this article, the authors describe an approach to staffing for small agencies, beginning by reviewing some of the methods currently in use. 

A Performance-Based Approach to Police Staffing and Allocation

 A Performance-Based Approach to Staffing and Allocation summarizes the research conducted by the Michigan State University team. It highlights the current staffing allocation landscape for law enforcement agencies and provides a practical step-by-step approach for any agency to assess its own patrol staffing needs based upon its workload and performance objectives. Additionally, it identifies some ways beyond the use of sworn staff that workload demand can be managed, and discusses how an agency’s approach to community policing implementation can affect staffing allocation and deployment. This guidebook will be particularly useful for police practitioners and planners conducting an assessment of their agency’s staffing need, and for researchers interested in police staffing experiences and assessment methods.

Essentials for Leaders: A Performance-Based Approach to Police Staffing and Allocation
The COPS Office presents this Essentials for Leaders, which provides summaries of existing and new COPS Office publications and resources, tailored for executives. Essentials for Leaders: A Performance-Based Approach to Staffing and Allocation summarizes the research conducted by the Michigan State University team on the current staffing allocation landscape for law enforcement agencies and provides a practical step-by-step approach for any agency to assess its own patrol staffing needs based upon its workload and performance objectives. Additionally, it identifies some ways beyond the use of sworn staff that workload demand can be managed, and discusses how an agency’s approach to community policing implementation can affect staffing allocation and deployment. 

Public Safety Consolidation: What is It? How Does It Work?
The provision of public safety services is among the most challenging tasks a community faces. Among the reasons for this is that expenditures for public safety are among the largest outlay local communities make. Since the economic recession of 2008 and 2009, communities have found it increasingly difficult to maintain proper staffing levels, provide basic police service, and deliver certain functions. Decision-makers in state and local governments have sought to respond to these challenges in several ways, including the consolidation of police and fire services into single, public service agencies.

Police Consolidation, Regionalization, and Shared Services: Options, Considerations, and Lessons from Research and Practice
To facilitate the sharing of research and experience-based lessons on regionalization, consolidation, and shared police services, the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Criminal Justice, through its Police Executive Development Series, hosted more than 75 national and Michigan police leaders at a 3 day event. The event, occurring on September 27–29, 2011, included an overview of sharing public safety services and consolidation, presentations on similar initiatives elsewhere, and discussion of these issues in Michigan. This report summarizes the key discussions, conclusions, and lessons of the symposium.

Police Workforce Structures: Cohorts, the Economy, and Organizational Performance
Research has long focused on the size of police agencies, giving little attention to the composition of the workforce itself. Literature in fields such as the military, healthcare, organizational psychology, and business, highlights the importance of workforce structures in meeting both organizational and staff needs. Using data from a national survey, we examine personnel cohorts (i.e., distribution of junior, midlevel, and senior sworn staff) as an element of workforce structure in the largest, U.S. municipal police organizations. We describe the importance of cohort structures for enhancing performance (meeting both organizational and individual needs) and assess variation in cohort structures. We discuss the cohorts in light of their effects on personnel management, and highlight the importance of existing cohort structures when considering major personnel decisions such as hiring freezes, furloughs, layoffs, and buyouts. We summarize future research that could advance theory and policy regarding workforce structures in police and other criminal justice organizations.

Articulating the Dynamic Police Staffing Challenge: An Examination of Supply and Demand
This work aims to summarize literature on police recruitment and retention and how changing conditions may affect these. It uses a bucket metaphor to conceptualize and present visually how these can interact with each other and create a dynamic police staffing challenge.  Existing research suggests police agencies face a threefold challenge in meeting the demand for officers: attrition is likely to increase, sources of new recruits might be decreasing, and police responsibilities are expanding. Attrition might increase because of baby-boom generation retirements, military call-ups, changing generational expectations of careers, budget crises, and organizational characteristics. Sources of new recruits might be decreasing because of a decrease in the qualified applicant pool, changing generational preferences in selecting careers, increased competition for persons who might qualify as police officers, expanded skill requirements for police officers, uncompetitive benefits, and many of the organizational characteristics causing attrition. Policing responsibilities are expanding because of new roles in community policing, homeland security, and emerging crimes.


Advancing a Police Science: Implications from a National Survey of Police Staffing
Data analysis can lead to innovative ways to address some of the most pressing criminal justice problems. Data collection and measurement, for example, supported the implementation of several successful crime-reduction strategies in recent decades. Ideally, data collection, measurement, and analysis could help police agencies develop evidence-based tenets of personnel management and planning as well as address problems of recruitment and retention. Police administrative data on these topics, however, have many problems, including incompleteness and inaccuracies. This article examines the extent of these as evident in a recent survey of large police agencies regarding personnel experiences and practices. It summarizes the issues that must be addressed for data analysis to yield insights on personnel issues.

Police Recruitment and Retention for the New Millennium: The State of Knowledge
The supply of and demand for qualified police officers are changing in a time of increasing attrition, expanding law-enforcement responsibilities, and decreasing resources. These contribute to the difficulties that many agencies report in creating a workforce that represents community demographics, is committed to providing its employees the opportunity for long-term police careers, and effectively implements community policing. This book summarizes lessons on recruiting and retaining effective workforces.