Intelligence led policing (ILP) is a relatively new concept in modern police jargon. What in the world is it, and why would any department worth its salt want to take on a complete paradigm shift when policing is getting more difficult by the day? It's pretty simple: it costs less, lowers crime rates, and keeps officers safer.
ILP is the concept of using intelligence to better prepare officers in the field. It doesn't replace more typical methods of investigation, it enhances them. By allowing analysts to sort through crime data, officers and investigators are able to work with a finished intelligence product rather than simply information. This does a couple of things. First, it outlines specifically where the trends are, not only geographically but in terms of time. Second, because of the ability to have more insight into where crime is most likely to occur, more time is spent actually preventing crime. Third, because time is used more productively, officers are freed up to back up others when need be.
All of this happens through the use of intelligence based models. In a nutshell, raw data is given to an analyst. She takes the data and makes sense of it. Her job is to provide officers with a clear, concise product taking all of the available information and boiling it down into something useable. Yes, officers do this now; however, having someone who is responsible for doing this on behalf of the department then frees sworn officers up to do those things which require a sworn officer.
Additionally, an analyst has tools at her disposal not usually available to an officer, because her area of expertise is in analysis rather than policing. In an intelligence led policing model spacial information is used in conjunction with time information to create a system where there is a visual map created. This allows for connections to be drawn which might have otherwise been missed. Data can also be easily manipulated to account for virtually any factor. The net result is a better analysis with stronger data leading to information officers can use to their advantage.
So how does intelligence led policing help? Officers are freed up to do what they do best. Their time is valuable, and when they have more of it to spend doing real police work there is a stronger available police presence. When that stronger presence has the added ability to have a more clear idea of where to be when, crime rates drop. When crime rates are lower the community is safer. A stronger police presence also allows for officers to be available to back up fellow officers when need be. These create a safer environment for officers as well as the public. More police hours on the beat means the job is being done without relying so heavily on overtime, lowering labor cost. Less overtime can also equate less exhausted officers, improving both quality of life and safety for those involved.
Overall intelligence led policing is gaining a steady following, primarily in the eastern United States. As more departments adopt this model more information will be available to test the theories presented by proponents of ILP. In the meantime, resourceful department administrators might be wise to educate themselves in the benefits of ILP. The overall job of a police chief is to ensure the safety of the community and the officers while staying within budget, and intelligence led policing appears to be one succesful method of updating procedures to assist in this.