The Golden Hammer Exclusive: Montgomery County Sheriff Henderson releases potentially controversial 2018 Patrol Workload Analysis study

The Golden Hammer Exclusive: Montgomery County Sheriff Henderson releases potentially controversial 2018 Patrol Workload Analysis study

Conroe, May 29 – Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson released a potentially controversial 2018 Patrol Workload Analysis, a 73-page detailed study of quantitative data from the period from January, 2017, through June, 2017, to “project how many sheriff’s deputy positions are needed in order to protect both the community…[and] tax dollars…” Sheriff Henderson hopes that the study, of which Specialist David J. Borchardt was the primary author, would assist the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in implementation of its strategic plan and would assist the Montgomery County Commissioners Court in budget decisions.

The Workload Analysis discusses several of the issues that have been a point of controversy among many of the patrol deputies since Henderson has become the Sheriff. Many patrol deputies support the concept of “community policing” but have resisted the manner in which Henderson has implemented it. The Golden Hammer enjoys a robust network of Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies who have expressed, upon the condition of anonymity, their concerns about many of Henderson’s financial policies. During the past three months, Henderson has substantially reorganized his “leadership team” and has begun to reach out to his line-troops in order to improve communications within the Sheriff’s Office.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson.

Henderson wrote in the Foreward to the workload analysis report, “Traditionally, the question of ‘how many’ has been answered either with guesswork and cocktail-napkin math based upon the personal experience of police leaders or solely in the context of what was necessary to keep up with citizen-initiated calls for service.”

Henderson continued, “Today the question of ‘need’ is far more complex than simple response to citizen-initiated calls for service. Communities not only expect the police to respond but to reduce crime and take pro-active measures to prevent it in a manner that is procedurally just…The trick then, is to strike a balance between a growing community, heightened public expectations and a fiscally responsible expenditures of taxpayer dollars.”

The Sheriff’s Office claims that the quantitative analysis is based upon “objective, quantitative data.” Based upon the study and statistical analysis in the report, the Sheriff’s Office has concluded that Montgomery County needs 81 patrol deputy positions over the next four years “to match county growth and meet the agency’s goal of both reducing crime and reducing the fear of crime.” The number of required patrol deputies does not include supervisor positions, detectives, or administrative support.

Table showing patrol officer positions required to complete workload necessities by region of Montgomery County. Source: Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

A workload analysis contrasts with the officer to population ratio which the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations has utilized historically to determine the appropriate number of officers a locale required. Henderson and Borchardt argue in their report that a “workload analysis is more reliable than officer to population ratios or the ‘per capita’ approach.”

The report explains that the Sheriff’s Office “…measured the Sheriff’s Office patrol function at the deputy level (line-level); it excluded supervisors and specialty deputies (such as traffic and livestock unit). The scope of the workload analysis examined data…within a framework of the agency’s anticipated transition from a tradition policing model (reactive and random) to a COMPSTAT model (targeted and data-driven) supported by the philosophy of community-policing.” Historically, community policing and COMPSTAT have required manpower greater than more reactive methods of providing law enforcement.

There are two major changes that Henderson has implemented since he became the Sheriff on January 1, 2017: community policing and the aggressive use of COMPSTAT modeling. COMPSTAT is a policing methodology which the New York City Police Department in the late 1990s to prevent crime. The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2013 study “Compstat: Its Origins, Evolution, and Future in Law Enforcement Agencies” (2013) tells the history and the story of COMPSTAT:

“The most widely recognized element of Compstat is its regularly occurring meetings where department executives and officers discuss and analyze crime problems and the strategies used to address those problems. Oftentimes, department leaders will select commanders from a specific geographic area to attend each Compstat meeting.

“In the early 1990s, crime was a central concern for New York City residents, and the issue of crime played a prominent role in the city’s 1993 mayoral election.7 8 Lou Anemone, NYPD’s Chief of Department (the top uniformed officer) in 1994, said that during the early 1990s ‘there was very bad violent crime and pervasive fear of crime in the community, and this likely contributed to Mayor David Dinkins’ loss to Rudy Giuliani in 1993.’ After his victory at the polls, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, along with his pick for Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton, laid out their vision for New York City— they would make the city safe, reduce fear of crime, and improve the overall quality of life.

“According to former Commissioner Bratton, there were several barriers that stood in the way of achieving a safer New York City. The NYPD col- lected crime statistics mainly for the purpose of reporting the data to the FBI, so the statistics were unavailable for timely crime analysis.

“More broadly, the department had no sys- temic focus on preventing crime. Lou Anemone explained that ‘The dispatchers at headquarters, who were the lowest-ranking people in the de- partment, controlled field operations, so we were just running around answering 911 calls. There was no free time for officers to focus on crime prevention.’ This type of situation wasn’t unique to New York City. Police officers in many cities focused on responding to crimes that had already been committed, and their effectiveness was judged in terms of response times, arrest statistics, and clearance rates. In many jurisdictions, the po- lice were simply not held accountable for preventing crime.

“As they reoriented the NYPD to focus on crime prevention, Bratton and his command staff created and implemented a new data-driven performance measurement system they eventually called ‘Compstat.’ Bill Bratton described the earliest version of Compstat as a system to track crime statistics and have police respond to those statistics.

“The new focus on crime prevention and implementation of Compstat represented a major shift for the Department. Former NYPD Chief
of Department and First Deputy Commissioner John Timoney said, ‘The focus of the NYPD for the previous 20 years had been reducing police corruption. No one had ever asked how can we reduce crime?'”

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office analysis sets as a goal that 50% of a patrol deputy’s time should be unobligated to support community policing and that 25% of patrol deputies’ time must be allocated to administration activities such as report writing. The analysis calculated actual unobligated time…by subtracting citizen-initiated activities, officer-initiated activities from actual availability during the period.

The report concluded, “”Patrol staff in the northeast and east part of the county are of the most concern with citizen-initiated call for service demand routinely nearing or exceeding average staffing capacity during daytime hours. COMPSTAT and community policing would be a significant challenge in this area without the funding of additional positions.” At the same time, there is less of a shortfall in the south, southwest, and northwest portions of Montgomery County. The Woodlands Township is adequately staffed, because the Township has a separate contract with the Sheriff’s Office and pays for additional patrol services to support patrol requirements.

The Sheriff’s Office has suffered from a substantial shortfall of employees since Henderson began to implement the changes in his office. The Patrol Workload Analysis  argues that the Sheriff’s Office is experiencing the effects of a “nationwide law enforcement ‘recruiting crisis'” in which there is a national shortage of eligible and willing candidates entering the law enforcement profession. Many of Sheriff Henderson’s patrol officers believe that Henderson’s policies, such as requiring employees to expend accumulated comp time, have contributed to the shortfall within the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office by reducing workplace morale.

 

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