Beginning in early 2004, the Alexandria Police Department began the process of decentralizing operations to three locations because of construction and space concerns at the headquarters building located at 2003 Mill Road. Operations, Investigations, Community Support, Fiscal Fleet Management, Office of Intelligence and Internal Security, Crime Analysis and other support and command staff moved to temporary facilities located at 2034 and 2900 Eisenhower Avenue. Five technical support functions (Communications, Property, Technical Support, Information Services and the Crime Scene Investigations Section) remained at Mill Road. This decentralization of police functions contributed to a decline in the effectiveness of communication among various operational, investigative and administrative units. Information regarding new and emerging crime trends, patterns and neighborhood issues was often fragmented and responded to in a manner that did not unite the Department’s resources and focus toward proactive and problem solving solutions. Joint efforts among various units were also far more difficult to organize and manage. Fortunately, individual units had been able to successfully and independently use the analysis information provided to implement deployment and patrol strategies that continue to reduce crime – a testament for sure to the quality and dedication of all of the Department’s sworn and civilian employees. However, more had to be done to improve communication and teamwork at all levels, increase accountability, measure results on a regular basis and provide clarity in purpose, mission, and direction.
Model and Guiding Principles
Under the leadership of Chief David P. Baker, SRS emerged from a concept to a new police management model. Alexandria’s Strategic Response System (SRS) incorporates successful approaches and best practices from other jurisdictions to meet the Police Department’s goal of using sophisticated and ongoing crime analysis data to respond proactively and effectively to new and emerging crime trends. The Department’s model relies on the use of advanced technology to lead meeting discussions. SRS also relies heavily on the education of involved staff regarding how to use, interpret and access crime analysis data to develop strategies that respond to identified neighborhood issues. Technology will be used to document formal (agreed upon) responses to issues and assess the effectiveness of the implemented responses.
Participation, teamwork, increased communication among various operational and investigative units, ownership of issues and accountability for results are the guiding principles of the Department’s process. Bi-weekly meetings serve as the forum to identify issues and develop responses. Commanders are held accountable to develop effective responses and work with Crime Analysis staff to study the effectiveness of various responses.
Identified problems and strategies are tracked in order to assess ongoing effectiveness in addressing those issue(s) that have been targeted for proactive and increased response.
Meeting participants include the Chief of Police, deputy chiefs, captains, lieutenants, a representative number of sergeants, Community Support Officers, School Resource Officers, Residential Police Officers and any number of detectives and support personnel who may have input on particular issues. Participants are expected to take collective ownership in effectively responding to identified issues. Depending on the issue, an individual commander may be assigned sole responsibility to plan and implement the Department’s response to a particular problem.
SRS develops, enhances and improves the following concepts
- Teamwork at all levels.
- Clarity of purpose, mission and direction.
- Organizational communications.
- Agency and employee accountability.
- Proactive and problem solving response.
- Measurable results.
- Substance and quality of communications outside the organization.
- Ability to effectively measure individual and organizational performance.
- Increased integration of crime analysis into decision-making process so that policing strategies and deployment are unified, consistent, fact based and effective to reduce crime and respond to neighborhood issues.
- Represents a modern, effective, creative organizational response capability.
- Patrol function was restructured to place the highest number of officers on duty during peak call for service times.
- Incorporates accountability, consistency, and results into SARA model (Scan, Analyze, Respond, Assess) until the identified issues are controlled or alleviated.