Measuring Performance in a Modern Police Organization

Harvard Kennedy SchoolThis paper from the National Institute of Justice and the Harvard Kennedy School challenges the traditional metrics of performance measurement in police departments. Definitions of success in policing organizations have heavily focused on two classes of metrics, crime reduction and enforcement productivity, with quantitative indicators such as crime rates, arrest rates, clearance rates, and response times. The paper demonstrates how these measures fail to reflect the very best performance in crime control. Real success in crime control means spotting emerging problems early and suppressing them before they do much harm. This, however, would not produce substantial year-to-year reductions in crime figures, nor produce high numbers of arrests, coercive interventions, or any other specific activity. The paper recommends a broader conception of the policing mission, as well as a broader range of indicators of policing performance and success.

To view the report, click here.