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A Series of Cognitive Frameworks for Police RTCC: 01 - OODA

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How might cognitive frameworks help people who work inside police " real-time crime centers ?"  To me, it's about putting people, ideas, & pieces of technology together in ways that enhance awareness, sense-making & decision-making.  The first framework I'll introduce is Boyd's OODA . OBSERVE: These are the individual sensors, alerts, notifications, camera feeds, & info sources that make their way in front of a human. We are getting better at leveraging technology to automate this process. It's like multiplying our eyes & ears out there in the field. This is NOT situational awareness; it's simply receiving inputs. ORIENT: This is the contextual understanding of "so what" when a sensor gets triggered or some other information comes in. This is where Intelligence sits, as a form of individual & organizational understanding, sense-making, & pattern discernment. It helps answer "why does this matter?" Without backgr

Real-Time Crime Centers: Is it Even Possible to Measure Your Effectiveness?

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Ty Webb, Caddyshack (1980) Among the many, there's a memorable and hysterical scene in the movie Caddyshack where two (2) golfers are talking about how they played earlier that day: Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today? Ty Webb: Oh, Judge, I don't keep score. Judge Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers? Ty Webb: By height. It brings to mind all the metrics that can be used to compare things -- those that are effective, appropriate, worthless, comical, interesting, operational, hidden, insignificant, obvious... * In US policing, all the rage is over Real-Time Crime Centers ( RTCCs ). They come by many names - real-time intel, watch desks, operations centers, situation rooms, etc, etc. But for some reason, the RTCC label is sticking... And because they come with relatively high price tags (in terms of worker salary & fancy technology), police agency executives rightly want to know how effective these hi-tech units are.  But how do you measure the

Living Life in the Overlaps

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A Venn diagram to explain what I do at work. I live in the overlap of: INFORMATION. This is the reception, observation, sensing, or sharing of feedback or other information inputs. It relies on awareness, alerts, & being open to receive data — but also the ability to push this information forward. ( Real-Time Crime Centers , anyone?) INTELLIGENCE.  Intelligence is both a process & a by-product of a process. Through aggregation, it uncovers patterns & trends, as well as predictions & anticipations. By sharing these insights, groups & teams gain a shared & underlying awareness, sense-making, orientation, biases, or mental models. INVESTIGATIONS.  Investigations is the process of solving mysteries. It uses clues to develop multiple, conflicting theories. And uses critical thinking to find evidence, facts, observations, & data to disprove hypotheses. INTERDICTION.  Interdiction is the action in the field or arena. It’s driven by intentions, purpose, desires, or

Are Real-Time Centers Causing a Reshuffling of 911 Dispatcher Duties?

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I've written elsewhere that  police "real time crime centers" are disrupting 911 centers . When I used the term disruption , some readers thought it to be negative, as opposed to the neutrality I meant. But now, I'm leaning towards it being a positive term. Here's what I'm thinking... In the late 1990s, I was a new cop. It wasn't uncommon for uniformed patrolmen or patrolwomen to cover 911 desks when dispatchers called in sick. We'd be call-takers and dispatcher for fire, police, and medics. It was somewhat overwhelming - with the 911 phones, jail surveillance cameras, alarm boards, radio consoles, TDD systems, dot-matrix printers, monochrome monitors... And the technology stuffed into our dispatcher center seemed to grow every year - GPS systems, city pod cameras, databases, and plenty of other tools that I'd rather not name publicly. And with each new tool or tech, the complaints from dispatchers were as predictable as the sunrise: " We can&

Using Google's My Maps to Plan Your Family Road Trip

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Are you loading up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster this summer? I'm admittedly a Rand McNally Road Atlas sorta guy. But as a data-driven police detective, I'm no stranger to tech & GIS. Here's a solid hack at planning your next road trip: 1. Start in Google's free My Maps -- which is NOT the same as Google Maps! Yes, you'll need a free Google account. You'll likely toggle different "base map" options as you add your data; don't sweat this up front. 2. Think in terms of map "layers." For us, we're using:           🌲 National Parks (must see)           🌲 National Parks (would like to see)            🔵 Lodging/Hotels [options & reservations]             💜 Other stops/waypoints/attractions These layers group up similar types of points on a map & can be selected or de-selected to show on the screen. This helps find you plotted points & streamlines any editing. Consider separating "must see" from "would

John Boyd: "Machines don't fight wars."

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Chicago Police Crime Map (City of Chicago dashboard) “Machines don’t fight wars. Terrain doesn’t fight wars. Humans fight wars. You must get into the minds of humans. That’s where the battles are won.”  ~ COL John Boyd, US Air Force I'm a vocal supporter of data, technology, and intelligence in policing.   Data  is the collective of facts, clues, timestamps, map points, and evidence used to develop intelligence. Technology  is the aggregation of tools, methods, and mediums by which data is sensed, captured, sorted, stored, analyzed, correlated, transmitted, curated, and shared. Intelligence is the resultant storytelling product and team sense-making of threats, crimes, investigations, and evidence, ultimately used to inform decision-makers.  NONE of this happens without the integration of humans. I don't care how good your artificial intelligence is. Or your algorithm. Or how timely or accurate your automated alerts are. Effective policing and public safety require a human tou

Playing the Long Game

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Later tonight, I'm headed to the neighborhood dads' poker game.  Each of these guys has a different playing style.  Some are conservative betters; others are aggressive.  Some play the intellectual game; others get overly emotional. Some get drunk; others capitalize on their competitors' drunkenness.  Some play the short game; others play the long game. The long game is the collection of small decisions and their resultant successes and failures over a duration. Months. Years. Decades. When it comes down to success, I wholly believe in the consistency of good decisions is what matters. I'm probably a below-average poker player. Yet, it's possible for me to sit at a table of world champion players... and win.  How? By getting lucky enough times when I make bad decisions. If I sat down against those same players for another 100 games, I'd get crushed in 95+ of them. These guys are stacking good decisions on top of each other. For them, getting lucky means maximizi

The Intimidation Factor: Starting a Police Command or Intel Room

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Baton Rouge RTCC Do not be intimidated by huge, dimly-lit, video-walled police command & intelligence centers. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I first visited the Chicago Police Dept’s CPIC fusion center. Live-video from prominent tourist attractions across the city. A digital job board — displaying high priority shootings, robberies, & carjackings. More workstations than my unit had people! But then, I learned the same exact work can be run on a laptop, from the back of a minivan, at 80mph! (Not kidding!) At its core, running a command room or a real-time crime center is about timely access to information. And timely dissemination of the same. It doesn’t have to be all fancy. Sure, you can get expensive RTCC integration software. And a video wall. And TVs mounted all over. And elevated stadium seating. (Don’t forget the sexy accent lighting!) But… If you’re looking to start out, cram a computer & a couple monitors into an extra cubicle. Get your people some basic acce

The "Real-Time" Disruption to Police 911 Centers

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Police Real-Time Crime Centers are innovative. But they have disrupted 911 dispatch centers more than any other established institution in US policing. "Radio room" operations haven't conceptually changed in decades. They've been the consistent hub of public safety communications -- especially so through the consolidation of dispatch centers. Despite modern technology, the format has remained relatively unchanged: information comes in from telephone calls...& is broadcast out to cops via radio. Except now, the input of information into police operations is growing much more diverse than from 911 callers alone: business & home alarms cameras of all sorts various sensors & triggers artificial intelligence GPS tracking technologies pull-stations in schools body worn cameras Yet the volume & pace of 911 calls haven't slowed down at all. RTCCs have been opening up to support the influx of this new data & to help output it to first responders in th

Internal Resistance to Police "Real Time Crime Centers"

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In 1959, this was as "real time" as it got! (Oakland CA PD) Right now, US police departments are being categorized according to whether or not the Department adopts a certain technological concept. That concept is the Real Time Crime Center . And it's disrupted policing as we knew it. The RTCC concept can be as formal & robust as a dedicated, fully staffed monitoring room... or as casual as an extra computer workstation in a tucked-away cubicle. The concept remains: Provide immediate "real time" support to cops & first responders on the street, through a latticework of technology, intelligence, sensors, & alerts. RTCCs have been around for years. But 2021-2022 has seen unbelievable growth. Yet many police departments are resisting their implementation. Why? I'll offer several opinions. 1. They cost money. However, I'll suggest that almost every RTCC started out with humble beginnings & have grown into the formal programs we now see in t