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Sherrifs' Offices Go For Accountability

Sheriff Times, Summer 2000, No. 3, Issue 12

By Jim Leljedal, Public Information Officer, Broward County Sheriff's Office

Editor's note: Law enforcement agencies increasingly are turning to programs modeled after New York City's COMPSTAT process to hold officers and supervisors accountable for progress on local crime issues. Sheriff Times describes how two Florida sheriffs' offices have adapted the process for their jurisdictions.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- The Broward County Sheriff's Office sees to it that criminals are held accountable for their crimes--and that law enforcement leaders are held accountable for their crimefighting efforts throughout the communities our agency serves. Accountability is the aim and, happily, the result of our POWERTRAC (Provide Objectives Where Enforcement Resources Target Responses Against Crime) program. It is an innovative approach that consistently delivers measurable positive results.

POWERTRAC was developed to meet the county's unique needs. Our jurisdiction ranges from posh oceanfront condominiums to the desolate Everglades swamp, with middle-class homes and crack-impacted housing projects scattered in between. The permanent population--not counting the millions of visitors and tourists the county hosts each year--stands at 1.3 million.

Every five weeks, each district commander or chief in the unincorporated areas and seven contract cities served by the Broward County Sheriff's Office must stand before Sheriff Ken Jenne and his top command staff to thoroughly review crime data in his or her area. Flanked by his or her lieutenants, the chief is expected to be aware of every crime committed in the patrol zones under his or her command. If, for example, there has been an increase in auto thefts in a particular zone, he or she will need to know whether a single thief or theft ring is suspected and if a pattern has been detected. Inevitably, Sheriff Jenne or the colonel in charge of law enforcement will ask, "Exactly what are you doing about this?" The chief will need to have an answer.

"The interaction between Broward Sheriff's Office personnel and the citizens we serve is at an all-time high because POWERTRAC enables everyone to know exactly what's going on in their neighborhoods," Sheriff Jenne said. "We're charging our people with the responsibility of making sure that community problems are addressed, and addressed in a timely fashion."

In recent decades, as the size of law enforcement agencies grew to keep pace with urban sprawl, police administrators became more involved in operating bureaucracies and less involved in the street-level battle against crime. But community policing has refocused attention on the impact that individual crimes have upon neighborhoods and their quality of life-hence the emphasis on programs such as POWERTRAC.

POWERTRAC sessions invariably produce problem-solving strategies that are shared with all administrators. Because ongoing review of our tactics is built into the POWERTRAC process, the sheriff's office can evaluate effectiveness and make adjustments as necessary.

POWERTRAC sessions are held in a state-of-the-art facility equipped with a multimedia presentation system. Starting promptly at 7 a.m. every Tuesday, individual chiefs appear before the command staff, along with other unit supervisors who provide input when requested and share in the learning process. Senior management takes many different factors and topics into consideration when evaluating a commander's performance, including community policing initiatives undertaken, the level of community interaction, crime-prevention strategies, crime-reduction operations, effective use of resources, personnel management and deployment, adherence to deadlines, fiscal management and innovative approaches in problem solving.

In addition to reducing crime, POWERTRAC has had the effect of increasing drug cash and vehicle seizures, improving the quantity and quality of arrests, generating more field interviews, increasing the number of security surveys, improving intelligence gathering and crime analysis, raising overall productivity and ensuring a true commitment to addressing community concerns.

POWERTRAC has enabled us to take proactive steps to make our neighborhoods safer. It is helping us to reduce expenses and better utilize our resources, making it one of this department's most effective management tools and one of the most powerful weapons in our crimefighting arsenal.

By Jim Leljedal, Public Information Officer


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Updated: Thursday, 09-Jul-2009 18:03:19 PDT   ~   Accessed: 6011 times
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