Duluth Data Collection

Duluth Data Collection

by Rob Hurst, PCI #1286
Duluth (MN) Police Department

The Summer 2012 issue of IPMBA News referenced the data collected by the Duluth Police Department bike officers.  In order to generate this information, each member of the Duluth Police Department bike patrol is “strongly encouraged” to enter his/her activity into a daily log.

The spreadsheet-based log is a Google tool, free to anyone with a Google account, and relatively easy to set up after you decide which questions to ask.  Once you create an account and log in, you go to the top of the page and select “drive.”  From there you select “create” and then “form.”  A “wizard” will guide you through the form creation process, so have your questions handy.  Once you have created the form, Google basically gives you a web link you can share with everyone you want to participate.  It can be placed on a desktop or laptop, a smart phone, and similar devices.

As you can see from the screenshot, we enter the day and date, select the shift from a drop-down menu, and check off our patrol area(s).  After selecting your name from the drop-down menu, you fill in your mileage and the number of citizen contacts, arrests, citations, traffic stops, etc.  There is also a space for comments.  When you hit “submit”, the data is transmitted to the creator of the form (the administrator).  At any point, the administrator can log in and view the data everyone has been entering in the form of an Excel spreadsheet.  Because all users cannot see the aggregate data, the administrator reports the results to the rest of the bike team.

One thing to be aware of is the potential for double-counting.  For instance, if bike officers patrol in teams, both members might enter the same data at the end of their shifts.  The simple fix for this is to assign responsibility for entering data to one of the officers, which will give a more accurate picture of the bike unit activity.  If you take this approach, you might want to add a field for the reporting officer to select his/her partner’s name from a drop-down menu so both officers’ involvement is noted.  If, however, you are interested in tracking the performance of individual officers, having all officers track their own statistics might make more sense.

This simple tool has enabled us to track our stats, which helps us justify our existence and maintain the support of the department as well as the community at large.  Try it…it works great, and the key is, it’s EASY!

Rob is a Community Officer in downtown Duluth.  He was certified as an IPMBA Instructor at the 2012 IPMBA Conference in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  

(c) 2012 IPMBA.  This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of IPMBA News

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